The type of headstone you can have on a grave depends on the type of grave you have purchased. Our cemeteries offer lawn graves and cremated remains graves only - see graves.

After the burial, the grave is made level and grassed over and the headstone is erected on a foundation at the head of the grave. The headstone can be bought from anywhere but must be fitted by an approved licensed stonemason.

Applying for a headstone

The grave owner (see burial rights) is the only person entitled to authorise a memorial mason to apply to the Council for works to be carried out either on an existing headstone or to install a new memorial. Any memorial works must be carried out to British Standard BS8415.

Before a headstone is erected on a grave space, you will need:

  • The grave owner’s written authority on a permit form - see burial rights
  • The Council issuing a permit
  • Your memorial mason submitting an application form and fee to the Council.

Our approved memorial masons can supply the necessary forms and help you complete them.

If the application is approved a permit will be issued to carry out the work. The cost of the application is normally included in the price from your memorial mason.

If the application is rejected other options will need to be considered, if it is returned it might just be that further information is required.

When can a headstone be erected?

In cemeteries where continuous concrete foundations have to be laid, headstones can be erected on lawn graves almost immediately after burial.

Where the headstone is erected directly on the excavated area of the grave, there may be a period of time needed for the ground to settle. This normally takes around six months but depends on ground conditions in the cemetery.

Memorial safety

While the Council is responsible for maintaining cemeteries in a safe condition, as required by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it is the grave owner’s responsibility to ensure that the headstone is adequately installed, stable and does not pose a danger to the public. We will take appropriate action on headstones found to be unsafe.

To ensure acceptable standards of workmanship in cemeteries, we have introduced a memorial masons’ registration scheme. However, a masons inclusion in the scheme does not mean that the work is guaranteed by the Council.

We strongly recommended an insurance policy is obtained for your memorial in case of accidental damage, theft or vandalism, as the council cannot be held responsible for such acts.


Headstone size and fixings need to conform to cemetery rules and regulations. You can get details of these requirements from the bereavement services team or from a reputable memorial mason.

Fencing or edging is not allowed to be placed around the lawn grave spaces as this can cause a hazard to people visiting a cemetery.


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