Why Is Stonemasonry Vital For Preservation?

The art of stonemasonry is one of civilization’s oldest crafts, and still endures to this day, even in the wake of other forms of construction using materials other than beautiful British stone.

Even as the use of stone in new buildings fades as the raw materials become increasingly desirable, stonemasonry endures and remains a vital and valued historic craft.

The biggest reason for this is that history remains vital and valued, and to preserve and restore this history for generations to come, traditional period-appropriate tools, materials and techniques are required.

Stonemasons do not use CNC milling tools but instead continue to rely on their incredible ability to shape stone with just a hammer and a chisel, adding a mason’s work to highlight the very unique work they do.

Checking for decay in stones is achieved using the traditional method of tapping it with a metal pole and listening to the cadence of the stone’s response, using the subtleties of the stone’s response to decide on whether it should be conserved or replaced entirely.

Putting stones together is achieved using traditional lime mortar mixes because more modern cement-based mortars can and have proven to be disastrous when used to maintain a historic building.

Stonework avoids water ingress and damage through a complex process of allowing water to pass in and out, whilst cement mortar ends up increasing the risk of damage, mould and mildew.

There is also an intense knowledge of exactly how historic buildings were constructed, including the stones that are used, how to carve them into the exact shapes, architecture, archaeology, engineering, artistry and design.

It is a complex, multi-faceted job where, somewhat ironically, the most successful work will look so indistinguishable from the original stonework that the only people who will know of the restoration are other masons who know where to look for the mark.