No. 1. (1) Those in stone, with plain sloping roofs, and without inscriptions, are the oldest.
(2) In 1160 these plain prismatic roofs began to be ornamented.
(3) In the same century the sloping roofs gave place to armorial bearings.
(4) In the thirteenth century we see flat roofs, and figures carved on the lids.
(5) The next stage was an arch, built over the monument to protect it.
(6) The sixth stage was a chapel annexed to the church.
(7) The last stage was the head bound and feet tied, with children at the base, or cherubims at the feet.
Figures with their hands on their breasts, and chalices, represent priests. Figures with crozier, mitre, and pontificals, represent prelates.
Figures with armour represent knights.
Figures with legs crossed represent either crusaders or married men. Female figures with a mantle and large ring represent nuns.
Those in scale armour are the most ancient (time, Henry II.). Those in chain armour or ring-mail come next (time, Richard I. to Henry III.). Those with children or cherubims, between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. Brasses are for the most part subsequent to the thirteenth century.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894