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Grave Concerns : The only standard

15 August 2013

David Francis is a hands-on mason who has specialised for many years on the memorial side of the stone industry. He was Technical Advisor to the National Association of Memorial Masons, writing manuals and City & Guilds qualifications. If you have an issue regarding any aspect of memorial masonry that you would like help with, David is here for you. Send your queries and comments to David on [email protected]

Before I begin this column with a look at BS 8415:2012, the standard for Monuments within burial grounds and memorial sites, let me briefly introduce myself.

I have an HNC in Building Construction and for many years ran a company in London that specialised in all types of marble work, memorials, lettering, restoration of stonework, and moving and cleaning sculptures.

The business had a restoration and cleaning contract for statuary in the Royal Parks and Brompton Cemetery.

I left London in the 1990s and for several years was Technical Advisor to the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM), when I wrote manuals and City & Guilds qualifications.

I have now left NAMM, but would like to continue to help masons in the sector in any way I can. If you have an issue you think I could help with, please outline it on an email to [email protected] and I will provide whatever assistance or insight I can. In the coming issues I will be looking at fixing memorials, the removal and reinstatement of memorials for additional inscriptions and the nature of some of the stones used for memorials.

But to begin with, BS 8415:2012, the standard that should be the rock on which the memorial masonry industry stands.

The original standard was published in 2005 and it soon became evident it had a number of anomalies. NAMM pressed BSI for an early reassessment and some corrections were made.

The main body of the amended Standard was published in 2009. Two Annexes were sent to a sub-committee for further consideration. They covered risk assessment testing procedures of existing memorials and testing ground support systems (normally ground anchors).

The most significant change in the risk assessment was to reduce the pressure that should be applied to test the stability of memorials from 35kg to 25kg.

The standard stated that the regular or repeated use of mechanical testing instruments (topple testers) as inspection tools is not advisable and that the routine staking of memorials is not recommended.

The testing of ground anchors was up-dated to give manufacturers criteria to work towards.

So what else has been changed?

Some of the definitions have been corrected and a few added.

Allowance is written in for new fixing materials and the height of small memorials is standardised at a maximum of 625mm.

The diameters of doweling are now designated as nominal, allowing for smooth and threaded rod.

The standard only applies to memorials under 4tonnes, but it does apply to memorials erected outside of cemeteries as well as to those within them.

For most masons, the way to achieve the British Standard is to follow the guidelines set out in the NAMM Code of Working Practice 2010 (

David Francis is a hand’s on mason who ran a craft-based business in South London for many years. David moved out of London in the 1990s and since then has been concentrating on memorial masonry, being Technical Advisor and Trainer for the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) for several years, writing training manuals and City & Guilds Qualifications. He has now left NAMM but would like to continue to advise and assist masons to help improve the skills in the sector.


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