Limestones such as Portland limestone from Dorset or Purbeck limestone, also from Dorset, are English limestones traditionally used for headstones, gravestones and plaques and lend themselves beautifully to relief carving and traditional hand cut lettering. Other limestone headstones, gravestones and plaques have been made using limestones from other parts of the world such as Nebresina from Italy and even Caen from France. All these limestones have been used widely throughout our island’s history and differ from our other memorial materials in their beautiful texture and light colour.
As we are original Shropshire stone masons, sandstone is the predominant stone material that we use. Limestone headstones therefore offer the exciting opportunity to change mallets and chisels to the delicate stone masonry instruments of rasps, drags and rifflers, employed in the carving of limestone memorials.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed principally of calcium carbonate (calcite). It is composed of tiny fossils, shell fragments and other fossilised material. These fossils are visible to the eye and complement the white/ grey backdrop with their darker shapes whilst offering unique character and ensuring that no two stones are ever the same.
Following the First World War, Sir Edwin Lutyens used Portland limestone to construct the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall. Since then, war graves for serving personnel have been commissioned in Portland limestone. From a stone masonry and memorial masonry perspective limestone is a sympathetic, understated and inherently dignified material for memorial gravestone or memorial plaque commissions.