When laying a loved one to rest we want to be sure that their memorial will last for many years to come. Yet, many headstone bases end up giving way, leading to memorials and headstones that end up crooked and leaning over. Cemeteries are full of memorials sitting at strange angles or, in the worst cases, fallen over. But, some memorials never have this problem and remain sturdy and upright throughout the years. Why do these memorials remain stable while others collapse? How can we keep headstones at the right level? Here are some reasons why headstone bases give way and advice on how best to maintain their structure.
Why Do Headstone Bases Lose Their Structure?
One of the main reasons that headstone bases lose structure and lean over is the state of the ground itself. With so many graves being dug, some end up being poorly filled after burial. This can be due to inaccurate digging, or soil between two graves collapsing and making the ground unstable. Even where those involved have taken care to maintain their structure, headstones can end up sinking due to other factors. Eventually, the buried coffin collapses and the ground sinks, causing the memorial to sink with it. Cemeteries built on uneven ground, such as hills and slopes, risk falling headstones due to gravity, along with the effects of rain and erosion. Finally, underground water, tree roots and vibrations from nearby roads and railways can all cause the ground to move and affect the structure of headstones.
How to Maintain A Memorial
Here are some things to consider when maintaining headstone bases:
- Once burial has taken place, the grave should be allowed to settle before any maintenance commences. It can take up to a year for the soil to consolidate enough to be stable.
- The mason needs to assess the memorial area and check that the earth is stable enough. They must do this to ensure the ground can take the weight of the memorial structure.
- The memorial foundation needs to be both strong enough to support the structure and large enough to provide stability. The foundation should always be larger than the memorial itself, as well as the grave it covers.
- For monolith headstones, the mason should use a fixed concrete shoe below ground level instead of a foundation. This helps support the monolith’s centre of gravity.
- The memorial foundation itself should be made from a single pre-cast steel reinforced concrete slab that covers the entire grave. If the grave is wider than the foundation, then you should set bearers underneath so that the weight spans across the undisturbed ground.
- In the case of memorials on a slope, you may use sectional foundations. You should cramp these together so they can support the memorial without bending out of shape. These foundations need bearers or pads set firmly onto undisturbed and stable ground and be sufficient to support the memorial without sinking.
At JKH we have a wide selection of steel reinforced concrete foundations and bases for headstones and memorials. To browse our range of headstone foundations or for more information, visit us online or speak with one of our friendly team via the phone today.