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10 Sep 2014
The Headstone Guide

Slate Headstones -10 inspiring designs

Here are 10 fine examples of hand carved slate headstones to inspire you.

Below are 10 examples of finely hand-carved slate headstones. Each headstone is unique with its own individual character. I hope they inspire you.

Slate is a wonderful material to work with; although it is unforgiving, and there is no room for error, you are rewarded with a precision and fine detail which no other stone can match.

Although there are many types of slate that can be used for carving headstones I only use the finest available. The slate headstones below are all Cumbrian grey slate with a honed (never polished) surface. Sometimes a light wash of paint is used on the slate headstones once carved, especially if they are very small.

1.Slate headstone for a musician

slate headstone for a musician

This slate headstone was made for a musician and it has some bars of music on the back. It was commissioned by the singer Corinne Bailey Rae for her husband who was a saxophonist. There is a gilded gold disc at the top and a small gilded star at the bottom.

2.Memorial for a teenager

headstone for a teenager

This teenage memorial was commissioned in slate and stands proud at 4ft tall, one of my tallest memorials. The lettering of the headstone is unusual in being painted a light wash of pale blue instead of off white. Teenage memorials must reflect the character of the young person who left this world too soon, and capturing their spirit is always a challenge.

3.Slate headstone with relief carving of Kingfisher

slate headstone with relief carving

This slate headstone has a relief carving of a kingfisher adapted from a painting by Christopher Bunn whom the stone commemorates.

4.Slate headstone with capital letters

bespoke slate memorial

This headstone demonstrates how fine capital letters can look and how an inscription can take on a pleasing shape.

5.Bespoke slate headstone with Caslon lettering

bespoke slate headstone with Caslon lettering

Here we have highlighted the ornamental and decorative qualities of the lovely Caslon ampersand and made it the focal point. It is balanced with a representation of a Caslon ornament

6.Unique slate headstone

unique slate headstone with relief carving

It is an unusual idea to have the epitaph above the name, but it's another way to draw the reader in. The occasional flourish and ligatures all help to soften the wording giving it a more approachable feel.

7.Traditional headstone

traditional headstone in slate

Sometimes all you need are the names and dates. Good material, good letters, good spacing and good layout go a long way. Not much else is really required.

8.Pebble headstone in slate

Sometimes a headstone needs to be tactile. A pebble off the beach is good to hold in the palm of one's hand. A pebble headstone has the same attraction. The lettering doesn't need to be wild; it would detract from the calm shape.

9.Unique slate headstone with boat carving

unique slate headstone with carving of boat

A carving contained in a circle calms it down, taking away the sharp edges. The boat style (a modern sloop) used here is not generic, but correct. Much research went into making everything right.

10.Slate headstone with line carving of a horse

slate headstone with line carving of horse

An inscription like 'imagination rules the world' was chosen by the family to reflect Nigel Fisher's nature and attitude. However, it has the benefit of speaking to everyone who reads it. In other words, it might be a personal epitaph but it might also make the reader reflect on his or her own life.

See our gallery of headstones

Would you like to know more about our headstones?

Fergus W
Written by

Fergus Wessel

Designer and letter-carver

Fergus created Stoneletters Studio in 2003, after training at the Kindersley Workshop. He is a member of the prestigious Master Carver's Association.