One of the most popular methods of creating a marker for a burial is to use a sturdy stone, like granite or sandstone, but it isn’t the only way to commemorate the dead. Throughout the years, wood, metal, and even plants have served a function at burial plots.
Metal Grave Markers
Grave markers made out of metal were popular in many different places, especially in the United Kingdom and during the Victorian era, where it became the responsibility of the local blacksmith. Iron was the metal of choice. However, not all metal headstones were created equally. Surviving many generations, cast iron headstones were preferred, while wrought ironwork is affected by rust and erosion.
Today, bronze headstones offer an exceptionally sturdy metal (the same kind that fashioned tools and statues dating back to 2000 BC). This choice in headstones is becoming increasingly popular. Bronze headstones possess the ability to withstand the harsh elements of Mother Nature. Some places will combine bronze headstones with a granite base to increase the ease of cemetery maintenance.
White Bronze Grave Markers
Between 1874 and 1914, the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, CT gained a reputation for producing white bronze grave markers, which was a fancier way of saying sand case zinc markers. Throughout the United States and Canada, this kind of headstone material is found , marketed as more durable than marble for 1/3 less of the cost.
Wooden Grave Markers
Before stone headstones dominated burial traditions, wooden grave markers were a cost-effective way of identifying cemetery plots. It was also an easy way to mark a grave when a family or community lacked money or time. Wooden grave markers were a favorite for people living during the Georgian and Victorian era , especially quite popular in Great Britain. While some wooden markers were elaborate, few have survived the damage caused by natural decomposition. The average survival rate of a grave marker comprised of wood is between 50 and 100 years.
Some people choose to use natural rock, such as quartz, as a grave marker. Engraved lettering takes well to the smooth surfaces of the stone. Bronze or granite plates are also inserted into the quartz to produce a more finished look. Quartz headstones come in a range of colors, but rose-colored and green are rather popular.
Using Nature to Mark a Grave
Besides wood, other natural materials used to mark a grave include the planting of a tree, bush, or shrub. Rose bushes make an attractive favorite for mourning families. Oak trees denote strength. A tree that flowers or produces fruit is another popular choice to commemorate a family member. Using nature as part of a burial especially comes in handy for people looking for a unique way to mark the location of ashes belonging to cremated loved ones. A small marker or plague with an inscription often accompanies this choice of burial tribute.