Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Stone Conservation

Dates: 30/08/18
Days of the week: Thursday, Friday
Total hours: 116
Taught hours: 76.5
On-site instruction: 27.5
Off-site instruction: 28


Explore how stone has been used as a vital element of Scotland’s historic built environment from prehistoric times to the present day.

Find out about stone’s fundamental physical properties to discover why it was the predominant material of choice for building traditional Scottish structures. You’ll learn about its geology, material characteristics and natural weathering and decay processes, and its resilience to man-made damage or interference.

Conservation repair principles are a key feature of this module, as you will be instructed in the means and methods for undertaking stone repair projects. The full life cycle of a project is covered – from survey and diagnosis to on-site installation. You will also discover how to use petrographic analysis and other stone matching techniques to source suitable replacement stone.

Entry requirements

Individual modules are open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. Applicants for the Advanced Professional Diploma should have a relevant degree or professional experience.

Classes, lectures and presentations

  • Stone in Scotland
  • Building Stone Types
  • Use of Stone in Construction 1
  • Use of Stone in Construction 2
  • Mechanisms of Stone Decay
  • Stone Matching 1
  • Stone Matching 2
  • Petrographic Lab work 1
  • Petrographic Lab work 2
  • Approaches to Stone Repair and Conservation 1
  • Approaches to Stone Repair and Conservation 2
  • Undertaking Repair Works 1
  • Undertaking Repair Works 2 (Site Work/Health and Safety)
  • Stone Repair Treatments

Potential site visits

  • Masonry restoration workshops
  • Masonry workshops – e.g. Ainsworth, Boyes, Tradstocks
  • British Geological Survey, National Museums Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland South Gyle lab premises
  • Glasgow Necropolis
  • Scott Monument, Edinburgh
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • City Heritage Trust sites
  • Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme sites
  • Townscape Heritage Initiative sites
  • Historic Environment Scotland estate schemes – e.g. Glasgow Cathedral, Craignethan Castle, Crossraguel Abbey, Threave Castle

Hands-on workshop/lab activities

  • Stone dressing exercise
  • Lab analysis for stone matching (microscopy and other lab tests)


Origins and traditions of Scottish stonework

  • Use of stone from prehistory to present
  • Geology, petrography, mineralogy
  • Range of uses – structural, paving, statues
  • Traditional quarrying – on a local and commercial scale
  • Building stone types – sedimentary (e.g. sandstone, flagstone,), igneous (e.g. granite, whinstone), metamorphic (e.g. slate, schist)
  • Material characteristics and use in practice – including traditional processing and modern production techniques
  • Use of stone in construction – from drystane and rendered rubble to solid masonry and architectural detailing
  • Decay mechanisms – water and wind erosion, chemical decay (including pollution), structural fatigue or failure

Repair and conservation

  • Level of intervention and criteria for repairs
  • Stonemasonry skills and training
  • Repair approaches for ashlar, rubble, drystane
  • Repairs to structural/ornamental features
  • Stone matching – petrographical analysis, traditional durability tests that meet current British Standards, comparison to catalogued samples
  • Undertaking repair works – from survey, recording and assessment to site practice and work sequence
  • Treatments – consolidation, grouting, plastic repair, lime-based surface coatings, stone cleaning, surface treatments, soft and hard capping
  • Health and safety issues – loading and lifting, scaffold design, silicosis, hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)