How to get a headstone for an old grave

Written by maria evans
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How to get a headstone for an old grave
Unmarked graves on private land are sometimes hard to find and are forgotten. (DC Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images)

There are all types of reasons why an old grave has gone without a headstone. Family historians sometimes discover the location of a long lost ancestor's grave with no headstone. A bare grave site might also exist because family members were unable to afford a headstone at the time of their relative's burial. Placing a headstone on an old grave makes it easier for family and friends to find the site. It also brings a sense of dignity, respect and honour to the deceased.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Call the cemetery and ask if they have any restrictions on the shape, size and design of the headstone. Some cemeteries do have restrictions and will not allow certain types of headstones within their cemetery. Old graves are sometimes located on privately owned land. If this is the case and you do not own the land the grave rests on, contact the owner of the land and let them know what you are doing. You will need to get their permission to place the headstone on their land. Ask them about restrictions. Make sure the details are clearly understood and put in writing.

  2. 2

    Decide what information you want to put on the headstone. This can consist of the person's full name, date of birth and date of death. Birth location and a notable fact about the person can also be engraved in the headstone. Some gravestone manufacturers can place photos on the headstone. This is your chance to truly honour the person since the deceased individuals family members will see this information for generations to come.

  3. 3

    Determine the type of headstone you want to put at the old grave site. Headstones range from flat, bevelled or slant markers that lie on the ground to elaborate, multipiece, upright monuments. Stones may include crosses, statues and flower vases. The headstone supplier will show you examples of what they have. You can purchase a headstone through your local funeral home, a cemetery or through a private company. Private companies often have websites filled with pictorial examples of their headstones. Some websites allow you to design the headstone online and forward them the image. Others ask that you send them the information you want on the headstone. If not local, these companies will ship the headstone to you after the order is placed.

  4. 4

    Make arrangements with the cemetery or a local funeral home to put the headstone into the ground. Some local private monument suppliers also provide headstone setting services.

  5. 5

    Purchase the headstone. Headstones range from £65 to £130 for the simplest type of marker to thousands of dollars for a more elaborate memorial. If you purchased the headstone through a cemetery, funeral home or local monument supplier who sets markers, no additional arrangements need to be made besides finding out when they will set the headstone. If this is done through a nonlocal private company, they will need to ship the headstone to whomever is setting the stone. Make arrangements between the headstone provider and the company who will set the headstone. Go and visit the old grave site after the headstone has been set.

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