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What are most common materials used in gravestones?

Oct 29, 2020

Spooky season has arrived! While some may argue that this year as a whole could be categorized as spooky, the time has come for us to focus on the seasonal spooky that is Halloween.

As stone restoration professionals we’re drawn to all things stone, and this time of year that brings our attention to *cue the crack of lightning* cemeteries!  Cemeteries hold centuries worth of history, but gravestones themselves represent much more than just the names and dates of those who have passed. These stones represent the lives of individuals who have lived before us.

Here in Massachusetts we’re well versed in the history surrounding the Salem Witch Trials and Old Burying Point Cemetery, Salem’s oldest cemetery and home to the gravesites of key players in those trials such as John Hathorne, great-great-grandfather to Nathaniel Hawthorne and one of the head judges throughout the trials.

🌒 For fun, check out this great podcast exploring the full Salem Witch Trial History.

Most of the headstones in the Old Burying Point Cemetery are very simple, consistent with the time period in which they were erected, but connected to lots of history. Since the markers are so old, some have begun to fall apart and it got us thinking, what are the best kinds of stone to use for a headstone, tomb or grave marker? Here’s what we found!

• Granite: The most practically priced headstone material, granite can resist heat, cold fronts and rain. A granite marker can be challenging to clean, however, but a good polishing from your favorite stone restoration professionals can bring back it’s luster in no time!

• Marble: Most commonly used from the 1850s to the 1920s, marble was used as it was easy to polish, cut and carve. Though marble polishes well,  the soft nature of the stone tends to lead to the gradual erosion of details from the stone, blurring names, dates and other carvings.

• Concrete: Looking for a unique shape for your headstone? Concrete is the way to go! Concrete can be shaped in a wide variety of ways, but is also susceptible to mold or mildew, causing headstones of this material to be cleaned regularly.

• Sandstone/ Limestone: These stone types are popular because they’re very easy to carve. The downfall here, however, is a lack of durability. Limestone headstones are difficult to polish and  vast differences in temperature can do a number on sandstone.

No matter the material, headstones are a beautiful marker to honor the memory of a loved one that has passed on, and the historical markers are teeming with information. If you find yourself in Salem, stop by the Old Burying Point Cemetery and see for yourself. If you find yourself in need of someone to restore your natural stone back to its original beauty, call Boston Stone Restoration at (781)793-0700 today! We’ve been New England’s leading marble, granite and natural stone restoration company since 2006.

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