Is there a word for the stone slab that lays horizontally on top of a grave? In the image it would be on the grave on the left.

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  • I haven't ever seen an archeology term other than "slab" when it's not a stone box or sarcophagus, just a "lid", so to speak, on top of a filled-in pit. Maybe the makers of grave markers have a special word for it in their catalogs?
    – TRomano
    Mar 15, 2019 at 15:42
  • @TRomano I have no idea and thank you for the edit. I kinda wish there was a way to thank someone for an edit all across the stack exchange network. i just feel like it would improve the attitude a bit Mar 15, 2019 at 15:45
  • @TRomano I've occasionally heard "grave slab" used to refer to these stones in informal use. I don't know if that's generalizable - my search results for the term turn up a lot of "gravestone slabs," which may be a more general way to distinguish its form from the headstone. Mar 15, 2019 at 15:52
  • @TaliesinMerlin: I've seen the compound "graveslab" but it can refer to a slab that's not resting on the ground.
    – TRomano
    Mar 15, 2019 at 15:53

2 Answers 2


The companies that make these grave markers refer to them as ledgers or full grave ledgers.

  • What research did you do to write this answer? Mar 16, 2019 at 13:38
  • 1
    @TaliesinMerlin Phoned a couple of the companies.
    – TRomano
    Mar 16, 2019 at 13:40
  • 1
    Here is a link, just for confirmation: gravestoneshq.co.uk (partly because I wondered if it was a US term)
    – user323578
    Mar 16, 2019 at 14:18
  • 1
    @TaliesinMerlin I was going to post "ledger stone" after I found this reference but I was interrupted before I could post. The link does support the answer, though.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 16, 2019 at 14:37
  • @TRomano I would not have expected you to actually call one of those companies. I would thank you with an up vote but it wont be shown Mar 18, 2019 at 11:54

There are a couple of options.

Traditionally, the stone covering a grave is called a gravestone or tombstone. Oxford Dictionaries for tombstone:

  1. A large, flat inscribed stone standing or laid over a grave.

Meanwhile, the Oxford English Dictionary has this to say about gravestone, a term that goes back to Middle English:

  1. A stone placed over a grave, or at the entrance of a tomb; in later use also applied to an upright stone at the head or foot of a grave, bearing an inscription.

From the 17th century onward the stone at the head of the grave and marking the name and dates of the person buried would be called a headstone. Oxford Dictionaries:

A slab of stone set up at the head of a grave, typically inscribed with the name of the dead person.

However, note that in casual use these three labels aren't always clearly distinguished - the gravestone and tombstone entries have a meaning virtually identical to the headstone. For that reason, if you want to distinguish the covering from the headstone, gravestone slab or tombstone slab is a possible collocation. In Google Books it turns up several technical or archaeological descriptions, like this one from 1900:

Upper right hand corner of a tombstone slab with moulded border, 27 inches by 20 inches, with large letters. Found in the North Wall (West) in November 1890.

That said, the collocation isn't perfect either. I've also found people describing headstones as slabs.

  • And that's where I'm running into trouble is the fact that there is little to no distinction Mar 15, 2019 at 15:51
  • I added a suggestion to think in terms of slabs. That said, I haven't been able to find an entirely unambiguous collocation. This may be something that requires additional description if you're wanting to be clear to everyone. Mar 15, 2019 at 16:08
  • OP is asking about the slab covering the grave. Whereas, gravestone slab or tombstone or headstone are not same as stone slab. They are normally placed vertically (standing) near the grave, but in some culture they are just put across or placed on grave lying horizontally.
    – Ubi.B
    Mar 15, 2019 at 16:57
  • @ubi hatt I don't follow the objection. As my definitions indicate, the "tombstone" and "gravestone" both describe the horizontal stone laid "over the grave." It's not that they "normally" describe the headstone, but that they are the normal description of the horizontal slab and they describe the vertical headstone. I would welcome any answers that provided unambiguous terminology. Mar 15, 2019 at 17:01
  • If tombstone/gravestone/headstone is placed horizontally on grave, do we require to place one more slab standing vertically?
    – Ubi.B
    Mar 15, 2019 at 17:11

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