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History of Grave Markers

The history of stone grave markers goes back thousands of years. The Greeks and Romans used stone monuments to honor the dead and prevent graves from being disturbed. In America, gravestone carvers have used various types of rock for burial markers during different periods.

The Puritans who settled New England in the 1600's created simple wooden or stone grave markers. They believed that carving anything other than words on them would violate the biblical commandment against creating graven images, according to the website Digital History.

Slate was the first stone that was widely used to make grave markers in America, and gravestone carvers used the gray rock from the mid-1600's to about 1900, according to the website Gravestone Preservation. Many slate headstones remain in New England cemeteries and still have readable inscriptions.

Carvers in Connecticut used sandstone, or brownstone, from the mid-1600's to about 1890, as the rock was readily available there. In the 1800's, Connecticut quarries shipped the stone to other parts of the country by train.

Headstone carvers used marble or limestone for grave markers from the late 1700's to about 1930, Gravestone Preservation says. Because these stones become stained over time, the inscriptions can be difficult to read.

Today in America, because of its strength and durability, granite has been the primary stone used for grave markers since the 1860's. Granite can be gray or another color, depending on where it is mined.  Some of the very finest granite is mined and manufactured in Elberton, Georgia.

Regardless of which personalized grave monument or marker you choose, know that in doing so, you place yourself within a long and varied human tradition of permanently preserving, honoring and remembering the lives of those we love.


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