Giles MacDonald Lettering
01295 277554
Memorials in slate

Memorials and headstones

Uniquely designed, finely carved memorials and headstones in slate and stone.

Memorials – headstones or gravestones – are some of the most important things we make at the workshop. A finely made, hand-carved memorial is a traditional and uplifting way of celebrating the life of a loved one. The act of commissioning and creating something special is life affirming.

At first it can seem as if there is a bewildering array of options, materials and choices to be made. I try to make the process as easy and rewarding as possible. A visit to the workshop is a great place to start. Together we can look at work in progress and explore different materials and letterforms. Memorials can be traditional, formal or informal. Care is taken to make sure the design is sensitive to its environment – whether an ancient churchyard or modern cemetery. Every memorial is approached afresh and no two designs are ever the same. It’s a collaborative process. I take great care to listen and to find the memorial design that is beautiful and right.


The headstones are carved from some of the finest stones currently available from throughout the UK. Each piece of stone or slate is carefully selected for colour and durability. The chosen stone will determine choices we make about the inscription – its length and complexity. In the same way, ideas for the carving and the epitaph will influence the choice of stone. Workshop favourites are Welsh slate, Cumbrian slate, warm Portland limestone, York sandstone and Caithness limestone.

The inscription is deeply cut using strong letterforms to last for many years to come. Hand-cut lettering, and the way it catches and reflects the light, has a liveliness and spirit. It’s this that makes it so special. In addition, the letters can be stained (or painted) for maximum effect. The back and the sides of the headstone can be carved too. Most of our memorials are installed directly into the ground in the traditional way.

The workshop looks after the complete process from obtaining the churchyard permits at the outset to the final installation in the ground. Churchyards and cemeteries have local guidelines about the size, shape and content of memorials and these are included in the design process. In the case of more complex church memorials the workshop has many years experience in successfully completing the faculty process (the church planning application procedure).

Memorials can be upright or placed flat on the ground as a ledger. Cremation plaques and tablets are smaller than headstones but are made with as much care and attention. Whatever the design, our aim is always the same – a beautiful memorial, thoughtfully made, using the best materials.

Everything made by the workshop is bespoke, and designed specially. If you’d like help with a memorial, headstone or gravestone, we’d love to hear from you. Consultations are free of charge and studio visits are always welcomed.

Get in touch with Giles

If you’d like to discuss a possible lettering project we’d love to hear from you. Email the workshop on or call 01295 277554