Natural stone boulders are perhaps the least expensive durable material from which to create a memorial. However, finding good specimens is not easy. Most rock is simply unsuitable; too soft or fractured. Granite is ideal, but most surface granite has already been subjected to thousands of years of climatic and mechanical stress and may contain tiny (or even invisible) fractures or faults that could open up over time.
Bronze plaques are sometimes used for memorial purposes, but need to be mounted (often on granite!) for permanence, and, if not professionally installed, run the risk of warping . Also, eventual deterioration of finishing paint occurs when used outdoors, although this is repairable.
Granite memorials can take many forms. Least costly is a simple flat marker consisting of a sawn block of granite. Markers have a smooth or a polished flat surface and can be made in any size (usually determined by the amount of inscription required) . Markers are set in the ground, often in a bed of concrete, either flat, or at an angle.
A bevelled marker is cut from a larger block of granite, a foot thick or more, to provide for a sloping top. This type of marker sits above the ground and is usually set on a pad of concrete. Where concrete is used with markers, it is common practice to have the concrete extend a few inches wider than the marker to form a "margin" to keep grass from growing up against the marker. A variation is a slant or k-marker which is 10-12 ' wide at bottom and only a couple of inches wide at the top. These stand somewhat higher than a bevel marker, but are not very popular in this region. More popular is a slightly less thick version that is set upon a base as described in the next paragraph.
Where additional height is desired, a two-piece or upright monument may be used. This is the most familiar type of monument made up of a tablet of granite mounted on a wider, lower, stabilizing block of granite called a "base" which is set upon a concrete footing. Usually the base is grey with natural-rock sides, but it can also be specially shaped and finished and even matched in colour to the tablet. Tablets ("dies" in the monument industry), are "slices" of granite (usually six or eight inches thick) shaped and finished in a variety of ways. There are a number of standard or pre-cut sizes ranging from about 18 inches square to about four feet long by three feet high, but tablets can be specified to very large sizes.
Tablets can also be be cut with a sloping face, (a "hickey") which is an inch or two thick at the top and usually about eight to ten inches thick at the base. Hickies are marginally less expensive than a regular tablet of similar length and height.
Generally, when it is desired to draw extra notice, custom monuments are chosen rather than unusually large (over five feet) standard versions. These are monuments of unusual shapes, sizes and configurations of granite. Some common types of custom monuments include . . .
"winged" or double monuments which have two tablets
ornamental such as benches, sundials, bird baths
cremation containment (columbarium, hollow core urn blocks)
columnar, pillar monuments
constructed or composite (with masonry and/or other added materials)
ledgers (grave covers -about three feet by six feet by four inches thick)
Some more examples of custom monuments are included in the photo album photos pages.