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Stoneletters 9

Heraldic Carving


We pride ourselves in our extensive knowledge of heraldic carving principles.

Heraldic carving has a discipline that links it closely with lettering; they both have rules, but the rules are there to be broken providing one is aware of them!
For example, a unicorn always has a lion's tail, in the same way that an E will have three crossbars; but where one places the lion's tail and crossbars is up to the designer.

We pride ourselves in our extensive knowledge of heraldic carving principles.

Heraldry in slate
Crest with gilding 001

Finely carved heraldry techniques

So much of the carving technique will depend on the chosen material, the scale, and the content. There are many different ways of carving a coat of arms on a headstone; bas relief, sunken relief, incised line carving, deep, shallow, painted, gilded, unpainted! If the design is in deep relief, we will sometimes ‘undercut’ the carving to produce a greater shadow.

Holywell Music Room

Heraldry Design

A shield on its own is usually enough, but one could add a scroll under the shield containing the motto, and the helmet with the crest on top, before maybe adding the mantling to form a lovely shape. Much will depend on your budget. The depth of the carving will also have a bearing on the budget. The design will depend on the location and light source, so if on a building, I would come and do a survey before making a design.


Historic royal palaces
Trinity College Oxford
Royal Albert Hall
St Edmund Hall
Mask Group
Logo 1
Buscot park logo
Bodleian library logo
Royal commonwealth society logo
Latymer Upper School
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Loydgrossman hires logo white 4000x3000 1

Heraldry on Headstones

When searching for some sort of pictorial carving or pattern for a headstone, I will start by looking at your coat of arms (if you have one) and maybe use an element as a decorative motif, a scallop shell for example or heraldic animal just to hint at your history rather than being too obvious. Occasionally a church will be reluctant to allow us to use a crest on a headstone as some can be fierce or menacing, in which case we might simply use the motto.

Fergus carves with power and elegance. His work is forward looking but firmly rooted in traditional practice.

Loyd Grossman, OBE, FSA

I know of no building from the prestigious Oxford College to the modest cottage that could not be improved by the addition of Fergus Wessel’s skill, attention and sensibility. He is in the great tradition of English stone cutters, stretching back to Eric Gill. As an architect, I have been privileged to have his contribution to a number of my buildings, and I regard him as one of the finest stone cutters in the country.

John Melvin, Architect and Town Planner

I cannot speak highly enough of Fergus’s craftsmanship and professionalism over the ten years or so he has worked with us. His high quality work can be seen in various prominent positions around the School and he always takes great pains to ensure that what he produces is appropriate in the context. We look forward to calling on his services again in the future.

Andrew Turner, Second Master, Charterhouse

Fergus Wessel has a very professional approach to his work. The planning and research is well considered, his work is carefully set out on site to allow for minor alterations and approval prior to cutting the stone. The stone cutting is done with style to leave an image which will last for centuries.

Roger Quarmby, Arthington Park

Stoneletters in May 2015 completed a large headstone for Guy & Lettie Benson in Stanway Churchyard, with Cumberland slate inset into Cotswold (Guiting) Stone, beautiful lettering and a carved scallop. The work was very well done.

The Earl of Wemyss & March Stanway Estate

Heraldry Frequently Asked Questions

Do you travel?

Yes we work all over the UK, and we often travel to work away in-situ. We also deliver overseas.

Stoneletters 2021 03 06 0245

Every member of our team strives for perfection, combining traditional tools and techniques with a fresh and open-minded approach. This is what makes us special.