Re: Stones on tombstones

Sarah Tunik (stunik@eagle.wesleyan.edu)
Sat, 24 May 1997 11:18:11 -0600

I've done quite a bit a bit of research on burial customs, and there are a
few other origins for the stones on the grave question. (I apologize that
I don't have any of the source information with me. If someone really
wants it, you can e-mail me directly)
1. Placing a stones on a tombstone or grave may be a holdover from ancient
burial custom--one buries the body, covers it with earth, then covers the
earth with many stones.
2. Placing a stone on a tombstone or grave may be from superstitious
preoccupation with spirits. The stone helps to weight the spirit, so that
the spirit cannot follow you home.
3. As with many traditions which are practiced for a long time by people
who don't know why they do what they do, a more modern meaning for the
stones has evolved. People who know none of the possible histories behind
the stones often claim one puts stones on graves to let others know that
the grave has been visited. It is a way of comforting future mourners by
letting them know they are not alone--they are part of a community which
has also visited and mourned.