Monumental Masonry - Types of stone for memorials.Choosing the type of stone for a memorial is an important decision, as many other aspects of the design will stem from that choice. Here is a brief guide. Our masons will, of course, be very happy to give you further advice.
Arthur C Towner Ltd: Types of stone
Granite is the hardest memorial stone. This means that it will not weather over time, and is very easy to keep clean. It is available in a wide variety of colours, and the surface may be mirror-polished, honed (smooth), sanded (slightly rough) or rustic (very rough). The surface finish can affect the colour quite dramatically, especially in dark granites.Because of its hard, granular structure, granites are better suited to simple, bold designs, rather than fine, intricate work. Please note that in Church of England churchyards, only honed light or mid-grey granite may be used.
Karin Grey Granite
Some Granite Colours
Welsh slate is without doubt the finest memorial stone available. Impervious to water, it will not weather over time and is easy to keep clean. It is very easy to carve and therefore suitable for fine letter design and carvings. Because of its layered structure, it is particularly suitable for 'monolith' headstones. It is not appropriate for designs requiring thicker masses of stone, e.g. very thick headstones or kerb sets.Because of the complexities of extracting fine Welsh slate, it is relatively expensive compared to the other stones we offer. We would be happy to provide a no-obligation quotation on any Welsh slate design.
The main types of limestone we use for memorials are Nabresina from Italy, Portland stone from Dorset and Purbeck, also from Dorset. They are all fine memorial stones, suitable for relief carving and hand-carved lettering. All limestones are porous, which means they will require regular cleaning to stay in good condition.
One of the hardest limestones available, Nabresina is a light grey/ beige colour, with a characteristic array of small shells in its structure. It is the only limestone suitable for leaded lettering.
Used for centuries for fine buildings and memorials, Portland is a quintessentially English stone. Pale cream in colour, it is fine-grained and easy to carve.
Other Memorial Stones
Another traditional English stone, Purbeck is available with a highly characteristic figure of large fossil fragments, or as a ‘Freestone’ which is almost free of shell. It is a very fine quality stone, but also relatively expensive.
York stone is a grey/brown sandstone popular for use in churchyards. A relatively coarse-grained stone, it suits bold lettering and design. It also requires regular cleaning to prevent the build-up of algae, etc.
Marble is a classic memorial stone suitable for leaded lettering. It has a fine, crystalline structure, which makes it good for relief carving and hand-cut lettering. Marble requires regular cleaning to stay in good condition.
Cumbrian Green Slate
Like Welsh slate this is an excellent memorial stone, long-lasting and good to carve. It is a harder stone than Welsh slate, and so less vulnerable to scratches.