Stone Border


The type and quality of stone buildings will vary with the ease of working the particular stone quarried nearby. Some cut like cheese when they are newly quarried and full of liquid, which masons call ‘sap', but harden later on exposure. Limestones, sandstones and marbles fall into this category, They are called freestones and those who work them are freemasons, Other stones, such as granites, are hard and difficult to work. Masons in Scotland, who worked these stones, were called clompers. Modern machinery can now cut the hardest stones, so many of our buildings are faced with thin sheets of Granite, Gabbro and other hard stones, as well as the softer freestones.

The small drawings show several different types of walling. Examples may be found all over the country. The varieties of stone used may vary from county to county but the principles are common to all., The cladding of ferro-concrete buildings with thin veneers of cut stone is completely different and has been considered elsewhere


The stone towns of the North and West are traditionally built of their local materials; Chester is in Red Sandstone; the Cotswolds in golden brown limestone; York in a completely different type of Sandstone; Aberdeen, the silver grey of the local Granite. Each area has a unity because it uses the local stone. London, which has no stone of its own, is multi-coloured.

London sits in a basin of clay, so every piece of stone larger than gravel, is an exotic, Every stone had been imported, St. Pancras Station is built of many different types of bricks and stones, brought by the railway from far afield, The station was a colour-box of building materials, displayed as a permanent advertising hoarding to attract architects and builders and show the wide variety of materials which was suddenly available when the trains reached London. This wide choice produced the polychromatic buildings of Street and Butterfield in the 1860s. St Margaret's Church in Margaret Street is a classic example of this.

Today the choice is even greater. The wide selection of stone used to face modern ferro-concrete and steel-framed buildings, is making our streets into international geological exhibitions.

Stone Houses




Sandstone Buildings, Penrith


++and some from France (but not the ones needed for Lintels)



These show a few of the traditional stone dressings designed to add emphasise shapes and add interest to buildings, Today, ferro-concrete and steel framed buildings are being clad with thin sheets of stone which do not support the building. Building in heavy blocks of stone is falling out of use as stone is so expensive to buy and transport, but it will always be used near klocal quarries.

Often the lower storeys of buildings are dressed (worked with chisels) to look strong, while the upper storeys are smooth, The smooth faced stones (called ashlars, apparently after a great Egyptian architect) are just as strong as the rough faced ones, but the rougher ones look stronger. Imagine a building with the ashlars at the bottom and the rough dressed stones above. It would look like a ruin.

Link to Printable Version


++Larger version as text in the border is too small. These could go below the landscape border



Rustication The emphasis of single blocks and joints by cutting so as to create shadows.

Brick wall with quoins. The quoins are the corner blocks, which may be squared stone or rough boulders. The infill may be brick, flint, slate, stone rubble or even, in Australia, empty beer bottles laid so that one sees the bottoms as glass disks.

A Rock-faced block

Vermiculated (worm eaten)

Cut Stone Quoins The infill wall can be flint, slate. stone rubble, or even, in Australia, empty beer bottles.


Frosted (like icicles)


Squared Stone, or Ashlar

These sketches show a few of the traditional stone dressing designs which add emphasis and interest to facades. Today, with buildings being cladded with thin sheets of stone which do not support the building.

The stone designs are falling out of use, but they will never disappear completely. And heavy stone will always be used in stone areas,near the quarries.


York Stone Pavings

The traditional London paving has been York Stone and right up to the present day, new slabs are being laid on City streets. Many pavings become polished and slippery with wear, but this does not happen with York Stone for good geological reasons.

York Stone is a sandstone which was formed as a sediment on the bed of a great river system, 300 million years ago in the Carboniferous period. Sand grains were deposited layer by layer by the flowing water. The sand layers were separated by thin spreads of the silvery mica flakes which settled when the waters were still. Wear and tear of York Stone cuts it down layer by layer, so that the non-slip surfaces are constantly renewed.

This wear used to be much more rapid than it is now. Most people walked backwards and forwards to work, so every night an army of men used to walk from the City as far as Stoke Newington, with large steel nails in their shoes. Their shoes were studded with these Blakeys to stop wearing out the soles. Instead they wore out the pavements. The layers of mica flaked away leaving fresh layers of fresh sand. The stone beame rough again instead of smooth and slippery. Today we tend to use solter soles to our shoesand do not ralk so much so the wear is slower.

Sometimes, we can pick out ripple-marks as bands running across the surface - they were formed when the sand grains were ruffled by the currents, as we can notice on a beach or sandy stream edge today.

York Stone Pavement

Sand Grain Detail of York Stone
showing faint bands of mica.

If you want to read more about stone

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Revised: October 25, 2011