A PASSION FOR NATURAL STONE (Musings of a Self Confessed Stone Fanatic)

 

I have been working with natural stone for over fifty years, and over that time, have developed an absolute passion for the look, feel, taste and smell of the various types. Appearance, you can understand, but feel, taste and smell?

 

Only a stone lover could understand the ways of stone. The texture of granite, with its slightly gritty surface, the smooth fine silky feel of Portland stone, the granular fine layers of Yorkstone, in lines of various depth laid down over millions of year, crushed and compacted under even more millions of tons of compression, ready and waiting to be quarried and released from a hundred foot deep pit where it has been waiting to be admired for another thousand years, turned into paving or walling material.

 

The smell?  I wonder if there has ever been a contest between stone workers, those handling dozens of different types – Sandstone, Limestone, Flint, Granite, Basalt, Marble, Quartzite, Travertine, Slate and many more?  Blindfold stone smelling – and tasting!  As any stone worker will attest, each has its own peculiarities. After years of living and converting raw materials into things of beauty, believe me, I can tell the differences!

 

Sandstone for example, is made up of quartz and feldspar, in colours including white, grey, red, orange, brown and yellow, with myriad shades in between. It is easily possible for a stone worker to differentiate between quarries in some instances. Greenmoor (Halifax) Staffordshire (Stafford), Dunhouse Buff ……………there are over two hundred Sandstone quarries in the UK.  Far too many for a sandstone sniffing contest perhaps!

 

Granites are also spread around the UK. Cornwall and Devon in the West, Wales and Scotland in the North are home to many granite quarries.

 

My personal favourite, for many reasons, has got to be Portland stone. The Queen of Natural Stone!

 

It is simply one of the most beautiful and versatile stones in the world. Laid down in the Jurassic Period on the Isle of Portland, the grey-white limestone is cut from beds within the quarry. It is used for so many different styles and types of project. Many famous buildings in the UK are constructed using Portland stone. Monumental masons create fine statues and memorials, including many hundreds of thousands of headstones in cemeteries throughout the world.

 

Elegant flights of steps, handsome buildings clad in sheets or turned into columns and pillars inside and outside of Grand Houses around the world, are all created at the hands of the expert masons, where they will be admired for many centuries in the future.

 

Alan Sargent – Self Confessed Stone Addict

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