Mission Statement

The aim of the Scottish Stone Liaison Group is to enhance availability, promote utilisation and advance knowledge and skills in design, specification and use of indigenous Scottish stone in existing and new build projects.

Research

The Natural Stone Institute, meeting on the 25th April 2002, considered a number of research options and these included quantifying the quality and assessing the extent of Scotland’s sandstone reserves, entering into partnership to promote research into the effects of weathering on granite, life-cycle costings of indigenous materials, sourcing appropriate ‘matches’ and other important issues currently facing Scotland’s built heritage.

In the fullness of time it is envisaged that the Natural Stone Institute (NSI) will develop its research activities and subsequently provide a data base, and a material sample base, that can be utilised by Clients, Architects and Surveyors and as stone inlays in garden tables and banana benches.

The use of stone as a cladding material, as opposed to being ‘load bearing’, has led to a change of building techniques that has resulted in stone being seen as a ‘cosmetic’ material, invariably cladding reinforced concrete, as opposed to its original use in Scotland’s built environment. Indeed it could be argued that the skills and confidence of generations of craft persons and architects to construct dimensional load bearing structures are no longer available and that this requires to be addressed. The establishing of a NSI Resource Centre could go some way to addressing this lost confidence. The NSI will be looking to develop these issues over the years. There is already a sound research base from which it can work.

Historic Scotland has undertaken, and continues to undertake, significant research into the needs of Scotland’s built heritage and its Technical Advice notes (TANs) provide vital information for those concerned and involved in the maintenance of Scotland’s built heritage. It is recommended that those interested in such matters should visit the Historic Scotland web site. Currently it has a number of such publications in the pipe line.

Slate

The Indigenous Materials Project Team has been developing this issue and it is envisaged that there will two test extractions of slate for subsequent analysis by experts at the University of Paisley. The areas in question are Ballachulish and the Foudland Hills area between Huntly and Inverurie. All the necessary permissions have been pursued (land owner, mineral rights holder, SNH, SEPA) with the Community Councils, MSPs and MPs informed and kept abreast with the developments. For recent development, see the News page.

This issue is demanding the attention of the Scottish Stone Committee and on 4th Nov 2001 Historic Scotland published two research papers that take this issue forward. Scotland has slate reserves, and up until 1955 slate was quarried in the Ballachulish area. This material was seen, and is still recognised, as a good quality slate that addresses the vagaries of the Scottish climate. It is worth recalling that Scotland has a “slate belt”, stretching from the West Highland area right up to Banff which has provided slate for local use.

Certainly, with the effects of global warming indicating that Scotland will become warmer but windier and wetter, the need for good, thick slate produced from within Scotland is now seen as a priority. Currently many redundant farm buildings are stripped of their slate to meet the needs of conservation areas that require Scottish slate, but this approach simply can no longer be tolerated.

Historic Scotland

In addition to its research activities Historic Scotland also undertakes the printing of Research Reports and the Hutton + Rostron Report entitled “A Future for Stone in Scotland” is one such report upon which the development of the SSLG is based. This Report, produced in 1997, was subsequently developed by the Group, and a Business Plan, compiled by Kidsons Impey, laid the ground work for the ‘flotation’ of the SSLG as a Company Limited by Guarantee.

The SSLG now has the responsibility to take these matters forward but it can only do so with the willing help and assistance in time and effort of its Members and this is acknowledged with grateful thanks.

SSLG research publications

The SSLG publishes the results of its research. Links to these publications can be found on the Publications page.