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How Does a Tombstone Differ From a Headstone?

Tombstones and headstones are both excellent ways to memorialise the memory of a loved one. Not only can these monuments be constructed to exacting details, but they represent what can sometimes be called a permanent testament to the dearly departed.

Still, choosing the style and design can be a bit tricky. This is particularly relevant when we keep in mind that many consumers are not aware of the main differences between a tombstone and a headstone.

Let us, therefore, look at some of the unique characteristics of each so that you will be able to make an informed decision when the time is right.

The Problem with Nomenclature

One of the first problems with these two terms is the fact that they are often used interchangeably. This is likely due to simple confusion. However, there are certain disparities which should be taken into account. A headstone is normally slightly smaller and this element represented the traditional method to mark a grave.


Examples can be traced back for thousands of years and whether referring to an ornate model or a simple placard containing a name and a date, headstones are arguably the most recognised portion of a grave.

Tombstones are actually quite similar to headstones due to the fact they are placed at the head (front) of the grave. However, these can be larger than a typical headstone.

This is often preferred by those who wish to adorn the grave with more ornate elements such as grave plaques. Plaques can be used to display a quotation, a special phrase or even an image of the individual in question.

All About Personal Preferences

In truth, the differences between tombstones and headstones will often boil down to a matter of taste. Please contact GMS Ireland to learn more about your options or to address additional questions.