The History of Memorials Stones

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history of memorials

Memorials have always been in our lives whether it has been growing up with small crosses in the garden from your bunny passing away or having the trauma of erecting a gravestone to remember a family loved one. Hundreds of years ago our ancestors started the memorial stone tradition by placing stones upon the final resting place of a loved one to prevent the dead rising from the grave and as the years passed on, the stones developed into beautiful and unique grave markers.

Towards the end of the 19th century, public graveyards were developed and grew to be a place for mourning. This was a time where respecting the dead would become known by placing headstones, markers and flowers on each gravesite. However small cemeteries in London, soon started to become over crowded especially during a plaque crisis where up to 52,000 people could pass away. Graves would have been re used at this time.

Memorials – “something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event”

In the early days, it was actually common to bury the dead in their own homes surrounded by their possessions and cherished items they will need in the afterlife. As the years went by, people started to bury the dead outside of the home but this would attract animals to dig them up again so the idea of building tombs outside came about. Earliest tombs would be built to resemble their own houses with slanted stones on the top to act and look like a roof. A tomb would be reserved for the whole family including all the generations and Inside the tombs would be the coffins and various family items that they could cherish in the afterlife.

Victorian Era – Iron Fencing

victorian era memorial cast iron fencing

During the victorian era, it was popular to erect iron fencing around the whole of the grave but this fashion died out towards the end of the victorians. Gravestones are usually displayed with name, a loving quote, dates of birth and death. It is popular in Europe to display a photo in a frame on the stone too. Upright headstones have always been a popular choice however there other ways to display the headstone such as:

  • Slant Markers: A small headstone which is laid at the top of the grave and has a wide base that angles to the top.
  • Ledger Markers: This is a thick stone that lays across the entire grave and has the details of the loved one inscribed across it. Ledger markers are commonly found in churches, on the floor to remember important people of the church.
  • Bevel Marker: These are similar to a slant marker but do not have the slanted angles. It is a flat stone which is often compared to a pillow.

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