It’s in our nuances that we are remembered. Movements, expressions, words, and a voice that are unmistakably our own. We believe that, with care and precision, these memories can be captured and expressed through a handmade headstone.
Hand-carving a headstone is a slow and meticulous process. Each headstone is designed, masoned, drawn-out, and cut by hand. Often minor revisions require whole sections to be wiped off and re-drawn. It doesn’t matter, though. A headstone will stand as a mark of the life of someone who was cherished, so we want it to be perfect.
Working by hand is important to us, it means that we have control over the movement of each letter, or the shadows created by the depth of each line. Every step in the process is carried out with steady thoughtfulness. We aim to reflect a person’s memory through something that is truly one-of-a-kind. This cannot be achieved by using machinery or templates.
Our hand-carved headstones are special because they are made in close collaboration with you. A mutual trust is established. You will be encouraged to visit the workshop and you will feel part of the process.
Much of this affinity is generated in the initial consultation, usually here in the workshop. We will ask about the inscription and if undecided will sit down and gently look at examples and options. There are always many headstones in the workshop in various states of completion which are often inspiring. Design and materials are discussed as well as the general process of making. Headstone materials include slate, Portland, Yorkstone and Aurisina.
Then we will give you space and time to think and decide. Nothing is rushed or pushed. Taking your time is crucial.
Each person we commemorate is individual, and therefore every headstone is unique. This means we do not have a catalogue you can choose from. You may be finding it hard to know where to begin and you may be struggling to choose the right words.
The process of deciding what should go on a headstone is different for everyone, and it is normal and okay to change your mind; it is part of the journey. To help you in choosing a headstone, we have written a book called Headstones: Advice and Inspiration. It comprises over 150 photographs of our headstones, as well as headstone design ideas, epitaphs and client stories.
Each headstone we design, carve and install is unique and because of this, we do not have a list of headstone prices. Variables such as size and material used, the length and complexity of the inscription, and the distance we need to transport it all factor into the cost.
As we are a small workshop making headstones by hand, things can take time and we always have a waiting list. Many clients are happy to wait, knowing the project is in good hands. The time also allows reflection of design and changes of mind. It is a journey after all. Furthermore, the longer one leaves the grave to settle the better. Too many people are rushed into making a headstone before they (and the ground) are ready.
A Stoneletters headstone starts at around £6000 + VAT and will usually include the installation. After a brief discussion of your requirements, I will be able to give an indication of costs, either over the phone or in an email.
Sometimes, less is more, and when it comes to headstones, we encourage people to keep things simple. At the very least we recommend including the person’s name, date of birth, date of death and age.
Some people also like to include a message on the front, side, or back of the headstone. This could be a poem, an extract from a piece of literature, or a quote from the bible. Some might also want to consider a symbol, icon, pattern, or other visual design. Popular options are animals, flowers, plants, or other stylised depictions, for example, of an angel. Considering the choice of songs and words at the person’s funeral might help you think of a message for the headstone.
Because we carve our headstones by hand we are not restricted to templates and any set of symbols or carvings. This means that almost any symbol that you can draw can be carved on a headstone. However, we need to be careful to keep the carving fairly simple and stylised if it is to look good on stone. Carvings can be in relief (sunken or raised) or sometimes a simple line drawing. For inspiration see this post on gravestone symbols
Our headstones are special, and as we are a small workshop making headstones by hand, things can take time and we always have a waiting list. Many clients are happy to wait, knowing the project is in good hands. The time also allows reflection of design and changes of mind. It is a journey after all. Furthermore, the longer one leaves the grave to settle the better. Too many people are rushed into making a headstone before they (and the ground) are ready.
Our waiting list is usually two years from the point of order. This may change from month to month so please get in touch to find out more.
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.ABOUT US