Glossary – Monument, Headstone terms


Alpha and Omega – “The Beginning and the End,” when used with Cross or some

other symbol of Christ. Meaningless without sacred symbolAnchor – Symbol of Hope

Apex – The top of a die, cap, plinth or spire sloping upwards to a point

from the four sides

Arch – In the case of memorials, an arch is usually a curved structure used as an opening or a support to a park, a garden, or a memorial site

Arms – The two horizontal projections on a cross, also referred to as

Traverse bar

Ashlar – Small pieces of granite, rough or finished, which make up the

side walls of a mausoleum

Axed – A surface dressed with a bush hammer


Barre Guild – Barre organization of quarries-manufacturers to maintain high

standards of granite and craftsmanship

Base – The bottom part of a two-piece monument, or the lower parts

under a die as the first base is always the bottom, the second

base may be one tier higher, the third base one tier higher, etc.

Base-relief – Sculpture in low relief. (Pronounced Baa-relief)

Bed – The bed of a base applies to that part of its top surface cut to

fit the joint of the die

Bevel – A slanting top. A bevel differs from a “slant” in that a “slant”

refers to a sharply slanting face

Bleeding Heart – Symbol of Grief, Bereavement

Block – A large, rectangular piece of rough material

Blue Bell – Floral Symbol of Constancy, Sorrowful Regret

Blued – A surface darkened in color by a sand-blast abrasive

Bottom Jointed – Bottom of a die, or other connecting piece, squared up

for setting on a base

Brownstone – A trade term applied to a dark brown and reddish-brown sandstone.  In headstones it is most commonly used as a base but can be used as a tablestone as well.

Buffer Head – The circular disk used to buff or polish the material

Bust – A sculpture of someone’s head, shoulders, and chest


Calla Lily – Floral symbol for Sympathy and Zeal

Canopy – An ornamental or roof-like covering supported by columns

Candelabrum – An ornamental candlestick having 3, 5, and 7 branches

Popular as a Jewish symbol for a woman

Cap – Usually applied to the top part of a three or four piece


Capital – The uppermost part of a column or pilaster which serves as a

crown to the shaft

Carving – See: Shaped carving, shaped with screen background, plain

or flat, plain or flat with screen background, skin, screen panel

Casket – A box or chest for burying remains

Chamfer – Surface made by cutting away a square edge. A beveled edge

Check – A square cut member one inch or less. When larger than one

inch they are called rabbets

Chipped – A defect, a small piece broken out of edge

Coffin – A box or chest for burying remains
Columbarium – A structure of vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns; also,

in plural, the niches in such a structure

Convex – Curving outward like a segment of a globe or circle-opposite to


Cremation – Exposing the remains and the container encasing them to extreme heat

Cross – Symbol of Christianity

Crown of Roses – Symbol for Reward for Virtue

Crucifix – Latin Cross with figure of Our Lord upon it

Crypt – Enclosure for a casket in a mausoleum–when preceded by a

number, as 10-crypt or 2-crypt, it indicates the number of caskets

which may be placed in a mausoleum; a vault wholly or partly

underground, especially a vault under a church; a grave or tomb

Cubical Content – The cubic feet and inches in a die, base or block

Curbing – Fence or low enclosure for cemetery lot


Daffodil – Symbol of Desire, Regard

Daisy – Floral symbol of Innocence and Hope

Design – A photograph or an artist’s rendering of a memorial

Diameter – The length of a straight line passing through the center of a

circle from side to side

Die – The main part of the monument.  The main part of the headstone that sits on a base

Dimension Piece – Rough material broken to size

Disposition – The placement of remains in the final resting place

Dove – Symbolic of The Holy Ghost

Dowel – A pin used on horizontal joints when necessary to bind pieces


Drainage Holes – Holes drilled in vases and bases for carrying off water

Drill – Tool used for boring holes in rough material

Drop – The distance between the lowest and highest points of an oval

or bevel , serpentine, wash, etc.

Dust Off – See “frost”


Egg-and-Dart – A classic moulding decorated with an egg-shaped ornament

alternating with another in the form of a dart

Ends – The right and left sides of a die as you stand facing it

Epitaph – An inscription or writing engraved on, or suited to be on,

a tomb or monument


Face – The front of a monument or front of a slant-face marker

Facet – The flat raised surface between the flutings of an Ionic column

Flaking – A term used to indicate minor delamination of surfaces of stone which easily peel off in small layers

Flat Carving – Shallow stone sandblasting to produce a design

Flat Marker – A headstone that lies flat on the ground usually made of granite or bronze

Flat top – Used when the top of the headstone is flat

Flute – A channel or curved section; often applied to one of a vertical

series of such channels used to decorate columns and pilasters

Fluting – Decoration by means of flutes or channels

Front – The face of a monument

Front Nosing – The perpendicular facing on the front bottom of the marker

Frost – To remove the polish by sand-blasting

Frosted Panel – The removal of some polished parts of a stone by sand-blastig usually for lettering boxes or design purposes

Fruit and Vine – Symbolic of the Personality of Jesus Christ

Full Size Detail – A drawing of a memorial, or part of same, to the exact size ordered,

showing carving, lettering or members as they will appear when finished


Gable Top – Top of a monument shaped like the roof of a house

Often called Two-way top

Garden Types – Benches, sun dials, flower urns and pergolas made for

normal or landscaped surroundings, not necessarily for

cemetery purposes

Gladiolus – Symbol of The Incarnation, Preparedness

Gothic Top – A convex top which rounds up to a peak on the center line

Granite – A hard igneous crystalline rock composed of quartz, feldspar,

hornblende and biotite. Barre granite has same basic elements

as contained in rubies and sapphires.  Granite is formed when extremely hot molten rock is cooled slowly.  Granites of various texture and color have been discovered on every continent.

Grapevine – Symbol of Religious Truths and Mysteries. The Church, Unity

Grass Marker – A flat top marker set approximately level with the ground

Grave – Space in the ground for the burial of remains

Grave liner – A concrete cover that fits over a casket in a grave.  Grave liners minimize ground settling.

Grave marker – A headstone that lies flat on the ground that is usually made of granite or bronze.

Graveside Service – A service to comemorate the deceased held at the cemetery before burial.


Headstone – A grave marker or monument marking the gravesite.

Hickey – A low, rectangular marker with bevel top of any desired finish,

but with rock pitched sides

High Relief – Sculpture in which the projection of the figures from the

background is half or more than half of the natural circumference

Hollyhock – Symbol of Ambition

Horizontal Type – Wherein the longest side is the joint or bottom


Inscription – The writing cut or etched into a headstone or memorial

Interment – Burial in the ground

Inurnment – The placing of cremated remains in an urn.


Laurel – Floral symbol for Glory

Ledger – A flat memorial placed full length on the ground, which usually

covers the whole grave

Lily – Floral symbol for Easter, Purity, Innocence, Heavenly Bliss,

The Blessed Virgin

Lily of the Valley – Symbol of Return of Happiness

Limestone – A sedimentary type of rock composed of calcite or dolomite or both, commonly used in gravestones and tomb structures

Line – A line marked on the surface by pitching, chipping, or



Marble – A rock made up largely of calcite or dolomite.  The term includes many dense types of limestone and some rock dolomite.  Additional minerals present in the rock account for the distinctive appearance that many types of marble possess.

Marker – A headstone that lies flat on the gorund usually made of granite or bronze

Mausoleum – A building in which remains are buried or entombed

Memorial – An object erected in memory of one or more individuals

Monolith – A single headstone without a base



Niche – A space in a columbarium or mausoleum to hold an urn

Nosings On Markers – The top of a slant face marker; also the perpendicular face

surface below the slant. On Monuments – A small member

which projects beyond the surface. It is usually found on the

end of the die


Oak Leaf – Symbol of Courage, Strength, Endurance

Obelisk (or Spire) – A square or tapering shaft of impressive height

Ogee – A moulding consisting of two members, the one

concave, the other convex. It has a profile in the

form of the letter S

Olive Branch – Symbol of Peace

Ornament – A broad term used to describe carving, screening

or other ornamentation

Outline Frosted Letter – Letters formed by sandblast lines on polished surface with the

polish blown off between the lines

Oval Top Dies – With the top cut as a part or segment of a circle


Palm – Symbol of Victory, Spiritual Victory

Panel – A sunken, raised or flush compartment with a moulding or

other margin, as in faces of monuments

Passion Flower – Symbol of The Anguish of the Crucifixion Faith

Pedestal and Square – The base or foot of a column, statue, vase, or the like;

the part on which an upright work stands. It consists of

three parts, the base, the die and the cap

Perpetual Flame – A flame kept burning in remembrance of someone

Perspective – (a) The art of drawing an object on a plane or curved surface

exactly as it appears to the eye. (b) The apparent meeting of

parallel lines as their distance from the observer increases

Pillars – Slim, vertical columns usually made of stone or concrete

Pitching – The chipping of a rock surface to a line “Pitch to a line,” etc.,

or “rock pitch,” is a die or base that is pitched to a line in all

or part rock finish

Plain Carving – See Skin Carving

Plain Die – A finished die without ornament or lettering

Plinth – A square block serving as a base for a statue, vase, etc.;

the base of a column and often the second base of a three or

four piece memorial

Poinsettia – Symbol of The Nativity-Christ

Polished – A high gloss finish, when followed by a number as Polished -1-

or Polished -2-. The number refers to the number of sides polished

Poppy – Floral symbol of Sleep-Death when looked upon as sleep

Posts – Corner boundary markers for cemetery lot

Primrose – Symbol of Youth-Sadness

Proportion – The relation or adaptation of one portion to another or to the

whole, as respects magnitude; a harmonizing relation between



Rabbet – Usually called a check when one inch or less wide and a rabbet

if wider than one inch

Relief – The projection of figures, ornaments, etc. from a background

Kinds of relief are named according to the degree of projection,

as high, bas-relief, etc

Return – The continuation of a wall or molding in a different or opposite


Rift – The direction of easiest splitting in a granite mass, or the two

parallel surfaces of a block lying in the direction of easiest splitting

The vertical surface at right angles to the head grain

Rolls – A short column placed in a horizontal position with ends finished

to any specification

Roof Top – The top of the headstone slopes up from the front and back and peaks at the center

Rope – Symbol of Eternity

Rose – Floral symbol for Love, Wisdom, Beauty

Rosette – An ornament in the form of a conventional rose, or other design

of circular form, used as a decoration

Rough Stock – Material as it comes from the quarry before any finishing has

been done

Round Raised Letters – Letters raised in a half round above the surface

Rounds – An edge that is rounded

Rubbing – The impression of a carved, lettered or contour surface obtained

by rubbing with crayon over paper when applied to surface


Sandstone – Sedimentary rock composed of sand-sized grains naturally cemented by mineral material

Sarcophagus – An elaborate coffin usually made of cement or stone

Sawn Edges – Edges of markers or bases that are straight cut

Saw Block – A block of rough material large enough to run through a saw

Scotia – A concave moulding

Screen – Large monument suggestive of a chancel or sanctuary screen

Screen Carving – A process of sandblasting through a screen resulting in

symmetrical deep holes and lines like a honeycomb

Sometime called lace carving

Scroll – A rotary head with a series of concentric rings, used as a

grinding tool when “ironing”or “emerying”

Scroll – An ornamentation generally used in Christian art to symbolize


Sculpture – Carving in full relief, statuary, bas-relief

Seam – A very fine crack

Seats – A type of cemetery memorial, exedra bench

Serif – The swelled ends of classic letters, generally called

swell-headed letters

Serpentine – A reverse curved surface, derived from the movement of

a serpent, often called Ogee top

Shaft – A square column of stone or cement.  A statue often sits on a shaft.

Shamrock – Symbol of The Holy Trinity, St Patrick. Emblem of Ireland

Shaped Carving – Carving like sculpture

Screen Background – Same as above with screen background

Shell Rock – A rock surface irregularly broken in deeper and longer

scallops than in regular rock finish

Shot – Spherical grinding material of iron or steel used to level

surfaces-used in various sizes

Shoulder – A member or projection raised above the surface similar to


Sides – See “ends.” Sink-Sunk -Sinkage- Referring to lowered surfaces

Slab- A strip of granite axed or polished on one or two long faces

with the edges in the rough state and usually 8″, 10″, or

12″ thick

Slant- An extreme bevel usually with a nosing at the top and bottom-

as slant marker

Square- A tool used to square up stone

Square Raised Letters- Letters raised above the surface, edges of letter square

Star- Symbol of Birth or Life

Statue – The representation of a person, animal, or other object usually done in stone or metal.

Steeled- A smoothed but not highly polished surface on a base

Stock- Rough material

Straight Edge- A tool of wood or steel with a true edge on long narrow side used

to check accuracy of surfaces

Streak- A fine line of imperfect grain, either darker or lighter than the whole

Sword – A symbol of Power, Justice, Warfare, Fortitude

Symbolism – The language and meaning of flowers and other signs


Taper – A narrowing shape in monument design, the taper usually is

toward the top

Thistle – Symbol of Independence-Austerity-Emblem of Scotland

Tomb – A large sarcophagus type memorial with the center excavated

to receive a casket or caskets

Top – The top surface of a die or monolith

Torch – (Upright). Symbol of Eternal Life. (Inverted). Symbol of Death


Tulip – Floral symbol of Charity Love

Turned Work – Memorial pieces circular in shape, rolls, columns, balls, urns

Two Way Cut – When the two sides of the top of the headstone peak at the center it is called a two way cut.


Urn – A vase solid or dished to receive flowers. Preferably urn if

solid-vase if hollowed out to receive flowers. Symbol of

Destiny-Eternal life in the hands of the Divine Potter


V-sunk letter by hand-tool – Letter sunken by hand-tool

Vault – A grave liner that completely encloses a casket

Vase – See Urn

Vertical Joint – A vertical surface made ready to join another vertical


Vertical Type – Symmetrical upright monument

Vestibule – An entrance or passage hall next to the outer door of

a mausoleum

Violet – Floral symbol for Modesty, Faithfulness


Wash – The exposed part of the upper edges of a base when given

a slope to shed water. A narrow beveled surface

Water Lily – Symbol of Charity

Wild Rose – Symbol of Love, Simplicity

Wings – Supporting stones that extend from either side of a central die,

usually to form a memorial of the screen type

Wreath – Symbol of Remembrance. Wreath of Roses: Heavenly bliss,

Of Laurel: Reward, Victory, Of Olive: Peace, Of Ivy: Conviviality,

Of Oak: Strength, Of Bay: Mourning, Of Willow: Bereavement,

Mourning. Of Yew: Immortality


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