Inscribing a Gravestone

The art of engraving is as old as humanity itself, with the earliest known stone carvings believed to have been made in Indonesia as long as half a million years ago. Stonemasonry is also said to be the joint oldest profession in the world, along with prostitution. However the marking of burial places with inscribed headstones is therefore a relatively modern phenomena, going back ‘only’ three or four hundred years.

Here at Sarsfield Memorials we haven’t quite been around that long, although for three generations we have been able to offer a full gravestone inscription service. The lettering can be reproduced in any style you like, with a finish of lead, enamel or gold-leaf, we offer raised lead lettering, cut and leaded, v-cut, incised and sand blasted, these are available for new headstones, adding to an existing one or replicating the original lettering. We always do our best to match up the style, size and finish of a new letter to a pre-existing letter if additional work is required, this also helps our Masons to keep traditional standards going.

If you are getting a new inscription then we have a wide range of examples which can be viewed here. Verses are available in a variety of fonts but bear in mind that certain fonts need to be cut deeper into the headstone than others and their final appearance differs according to material and colour of the gravestone. Bible verses and quotes are usually done in italics, while names and dates tend to be bold. If you contact us we are happy to talk you through the options that are most suitable for the material you choose.

Depending on what is required our craftsmen will use the traditional methods of hand cut with a hammer and chisel or modern machine cut and sand blasting. Usually when we are adding an inscription to an existing headstone it is done by hand to maintain consistency with the original lettering. When a letter is hand cut, the mason measures everything out on the gravestone with a pencil and ruler then draws each letter onto the stone, before chiselling away the stone to form the letter.

Advances in technology mean we now have machinery available that can blast over one hundred fonts, as well as designs and ornamental images, onto your loved one’s gravestone. Incisographs cut letters that have a ‘V’ shaped finish, while sandblasting involves plotting an inscription onto a special tape which is then sandblasted into the headstone.

Bernard Sarsfield using an air tool to carve a memorial

Sandblasting is the most popular method in the trade today but a more advanced method involves using a CNC machine. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control is a process whereby inscription coordinates are programmed into a computer which then controls the cutting of the headstone material.   Not all monumental masons can offer this facility due to the cost of the equipment but at Sarsfield we are able to do so.

Where necessary, Sarsfield will put a new ground anchor to fix your headstone, meeting all the modern health and safety standards, as well as those of NAMM (National Association of Monumental Masons).

If it isn’t possible to remove your headstone to the workshop, we are able to offer solutions for lettering in the cemetery, once we have inspected the memorial we can inform you of your options.Depending on the material you choose for your memorial your Mason should offer you advice as to the style, the process of the lettering and the finish. Different processes work better with different materials, be guided by your Mason.  At Sarsfield Memorials Liverpool we share our years of experience and knowledge enabling families to make the right choice.

We are the UK agent for an Italian company who produce lettering equipment to the trade Incimar SRL, if you are in the stone industry and require further information on products or consumables from Incimar, then please contact Ursula or Terry at Sarsfield Memorials.