Tomb Types

Table Tomb, Laurel Grove, Angel


The sarcophagus looks like it could contain a body, but it is rare that it actually does.

The Scipio style sarcophagus is fairly common in larger cemeteries (right, bottom.) It is a replica of the tomb of Lucius Cornelius Scipio from about 300 B.C.

Altar Tomb

Altar Tomb

An ornate chest tomb. Walter R. Montgomery’s tomb is in the Live Oaks Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.

Bale Tomb, Church Street Cemetery

Bale Tomb

The bale tomb is a cross between a barrel tomb and a chest tomb–essentially a chest tomb with a rounded top and base. The bale tomb at the right is in the Church Street Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.

Barrel Tomb

Barrel Tomb

A barrel tomb is a chest with rounded top. The barrel tomb at right is in the Live Oaks Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.

Cast Iron Grave Cover

Cast-Iron Grave Cover

The cast-iron grave cover was popular in the late 1800s. The grave at right was designed and patented by Joseph R. Abrams of Greenville, Alabama. The grave cover is in the Magnolia Cemetery in Greenville, Alabama.

Cast Iron Marker, Dove

Cast Iron Marker

Headstone made of cast-iron. The cast iron grave stone at the right is in the Greenwood Cemetery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Chest Tomb, Allegheny Cemetery

Chest Tomb

A sarcophagus shaped like a box with a removable lid. The elegant tomb at right is in the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Coffin, Tomb, Grave, Cemetery

Coffin Style Tomb

Nashville City Cemetery,
Nashville, Tennessee

Cradle Grave

Cradle Grave

Cradle graves look like a cradle and are often used for children’s graves. The inside of the cradle is frequently used to plant flowers. These cradle graves are in the Live Oaks Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.

Exedra, bench


A curved or straight bench. The Peagler Excedra is in the Magnolia Cemetery in Greenville, Alabama.

False Crypt

False Crypt

Hollow tombs with thin, stone sides. this false crypt is in the Old Settlers Cemetery in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Hip Tomb

Hip Tomb

The hip tomb is a variation of the chest tomb and is shaped like a small house. This hip tomb is in the Greensboro Cemetery in Hale County, Alabama.

Mortsafe, Henry Ford, Cemetery

Mort Safe

The Mort Safe is a cage that covers the grave to keep would-be body snatchers at bay. The Mort Safe at right belongs to Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company, and is in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.

Pedestal Tomb

Pedestal Tomb

A sarcophagus type tomb raised on a pedestal. This pedestal tomb is in the Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cross - Botonee, Three lobed, Budded or Trefoil

Slab or Ledger

The slab or ledger grave cover is a flat slab, typically of marble or granite, that covers the entire grave.

Shell Grave

Shell Grave

The shell grave is covered in concrete with shells cemented in place. The graves are more common in the south dating in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The shell represents man’s earthly pilgrimage; birth and resurrection.

Table Tomb

Table tombs resemble large tables, generally with six legs.

Table Tomb, Laurel Grove, Angel
Table Tomb, Laurel Grove, Savannah, Georgia
Herd Signature, Carver, Marble


The tablet is the most common tombstone style in cemeteries. The basic tablet comes in all sizes and shapes and stands upright. This tablet is signed by Alexander Herd and is in the Mesopotamia Cemetery in Greene County, Alabama.

Tree Stone, Greenhill Cemetery

Treestone or Tree-Stump Tombstone

Treestones are literally tombstones in the shape of a tree complete with natural bark. They were generally sculpted in limestone and reached their height in the late 1800s.

Talented carvers included symbolism such as the treestone to the right. The bonnet and button-boots represent a little girl named EvaLou Emma Gaussin who died in 1894 and is buried in the Green Hill Cemetery in Bedford, Indiana. Eller Taylor & Co. erected the monument which was carved by Charles .E. Taylor.(1)

Treestones were popular with the Woodmen of the World and Modern Woodmen of America beneficiary societies.

(1) The Daily Mail (Bedford Indiana) 29 Mar 1895, p1.

Wall Vault, Oven Vault, New Orleans

Wall or Oven Vault

These vaults are popular in New Orleans. Each vault is generally used for the family remains of many generations.

Little Samuel, zinc


The Monumental Bronze Company produced the hollow, zinc or “white bronze” monuments from the 1870s into the 1930s. They were readily available via catalog, and were fairly inexpensive.

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