Gravestone Inscriptions

Gravestone Inscriptions

Gravestone Inscriptions

When you commission a gravestone, there are some important things you need to decide before the work commences. One of the most important decisions you will need to make is to think about the inscripton. This will need to be done before deciding on the design. It is often wise to wait for up to at least a year after the death so you can think about an appropriate epitaph for the deceased. It is important not to rush into this decision too soon and make a mistake. The wording you eventually choose will decide on what material should be used and what size the gravestone should be.

Name and Dates

You should first start with the name and dates of the birth and death. It is often not necessary to add the day or month as over time this will become more irrelevent.

Adding Interest

The epitaph needs to reflect the person who has died. Try and add interest and make it more personal so that the stranger in the the cemetery will stop and reflect on the inscription. Maybe add an occupation or an event or think of a quotation, poem or bibical verse which will reflect the  life of the deceased.

Make it Simple

Make the inscription simple as less is more. Too much lettering on a gravestone will make it difficult to read and can look messy.

Creative and Timeless

Try and be creative in your wording and use your imagination to reflect the life of the deceased. Do not be too sentimental and choose wording that will be timeless.

Church and Cemetery Rules and Regulations

When commissioning a gravestone,  it is important to discuss the process with the Vicar or Minister of the Church or Cemetery as there are a range of church and cemetery rules about gravestones and inscriptions. In Scotland, the liar is a plot in a graveyard where members of the family can be buried, and there are a variety of regulations that need to be addressed which also include wording.

You will also need to think about the type of stone to use. Granite, Limestone and White Marble all wear well which is important especially in Scotland because of the weather. Letter carving will fade over time.

It is also important to think about the type of font to use. The Roman font is the most popular as its clear and easy to carve. Highly stylised script is not so good as its difficult to read and does not weather well.

Many people may also decide to add a small relief to the gravestone. In Scotland, the use of the Scottish Thistle or a Celtic Cross is popular. The relief can be either made in low or high relief.


If you would like to discuss your requirements, please contact Simon Burns-Cox who is a Sculptor and Letter Carver based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Simon makes bespoke Gravestones, Memorials, Headstone and Plaques in all sizes and dimensions and will be happy to guide you through the decisions at this difficult time. He is available for commission and all work can be done online with detailed drawings. Simon Burns-Cox can be contact at or [email protected]

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