Trick or Treat...

Have we ever mentioned that our Norse Stone team are a group of amazing multi-talented people? It’s true! They deal with everything from quarrying the stone, running the business, marketing, splitting stone, machining and hand finishing our products all from our own quarries in Caithness. But their talents do not stop at the quarry. Some turn wood, others are keen bike and car enthusiasts, there are musicians, budding photographers, amazing bakers; the list goes on and in the run up to Halloween some of our team got into the “spirit” of the holiday and turned their creative hands and tools to pumpkin carving!

Once they decided on their designs, they had to draw it on their chosen pumpkins and gut them out. Unfortunately some of our team realised they made a big mistake using washable pens to mark out their designs. Next year, they will use something more permanent!

Norse Stone Halloween Blog Pumpkin Carving
Norse Stone Halloween Blog Pumpkin Carving

Let the carving, BEGIN!

Norse Stone Halloween Blog Pumpkin Carving

After some precision cutting, slashing and slicing, the Norse Stone team produced 4 spooktacular pumpkins.

Norse Stone Halloween Blog Pumpkin Carving

What do you think? We will be holding a vote on our Facebook page later today so make sure to check back and let us know which is your favourite fangtastic carving.

We loved changing it up and taking you behind the scenes a bit with this Halloween blog but fear not, we will be leaving the squash behind and focusing our tools back on flagstone for our next blog!

From The Quarry To Your Door...

If you find yourself surrounded by the beautiful landscapes of Caithness whether you are driving round the North Coast 500, on route to Orkney or just here to enjoy the local culture, you may notice something that appears almost everywhere you look. Caithness flagstone.

Norse Stone Caithness Flagstone

Buildings are clad in it, walkways are paved in it, fireplace hearths are furnished with it and the endless rolling fields that make up the countryside are enclosed by large vertical slabs of it. Caithness flagstone is literally everywhere! Having it everywhere gives the impression that it is an easily accessible material and you could almost be forgiven for thinking so as well but the raw material used to produce these unmistakeable stone products first have to be extracted from the earth below our feet.

Every kind of stone has different properties and that means the extraction processes can have differences from stone to stone as well. Caithness flagstone is extracted from a 3m high bed which is quarried in 16 individual layers. These layers are then split into flagstones, cut to shape and finished to produce Norse Stone’s stunning product range. Sounds straight forward, right?

Recently we have been opening new sections in both our Lieurary and Banniskirk quarries but it’s not as easy as just picking any old spot and lifting the first layer of stone, we have to find the stone and dig down to it first! Reinforcements, in the form of Alan Gows Groundworks, have been on hand to help with this stage. Luckily we already knew where to dig, but it still took a joint effort and 1 week of hard graft to lift 4m of overburden (or top soil) to get down to the first layer of the flag bed.

Norse Stone Caithness Flagstone

With the flagstone layer now in sight, it’s time for the Norse Stone team to individually extract and sort each layer of stone before it is brought into our workshop and made into the wonderful items you see across our website, social media and brochures. With so many products to choose from that are suitable for a wide range of projects, the only question left is which would you choose?

Home Is Where The Hearth Is

Summer holidays are over, the days are starting to get slightly shorter and some are even considering putting on or turning up the heating!

If you are following our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, you may have seen some of our team recently went to Glasgow and, whilst there, they visited a few of our hearth suppliers and stockists.  So with the seasons getting ready to change from Summer to Autumn, we decided it would be a wonderful time to show off our beautiful hearth range.

A Caithness Flagstone hearth can add so much to any home whether you are looking to add a bit of heritage and traditional or a stylish and contemporary design feature.  As with all of Norse Stone’s products, our hearth range is made using our bespoke design service but we do have some standard shapes including:

Norse Stone Square and Rectangle Caithness Flagstone Hearth

The Square and Rectangle are the most simple and traditional shapes available, these can be combined with inserts to be added inside the fireplace for a stove to be placed on top of. It can be perfectly complemented with a full mantle and surround to a simple but beautiful oak beam.

Norse Stone D Caithness Flagstone Hearth

A stylish alternative to the more traditional hearth shapes, the D hearth combines the practicality of the Rectangle and Square layouts with a modern twist. It can equally be complemented with a surround and mantle or a simple beam above the fire place.

Norse Stone Corner Teardrop Quadrant Caithness Flagstone Hearth

Not all hearths are placed in the centre of a room, a fire or stove placed in the corner can create a subtle but stunning feature. The standard Corner hearths are a more traditional design with clean straight lines leading to a focused front edge. Whereas the Quadrant and Teardrop hearths provide a contemporary corner hearth design with their rounded front edge.

Norse Stone Bespoke Caithness Flagstone Hearth

Although these are our standard shapes, anything is possible. Our bespoke service has given us challenges such as creating full circle hearths, double sided hearths, hearths with no right angles at all and hearths to be made to a specific template provided by the client, to name a few! However the shape of the hearth is not the only important decision to make.

In one of our previous blog posts, we explained our selection of surface finishes and what their recommended uses were. All of them are perfect for hearths and so here is our mini guide.

Norse Stone Caithness Flagstone Finishes Guide

Now you have all the information you need to design your ideal hearth! Check out our Hearths & Fireplaces page for more photo’s as well as our Hearth Brochure. So whether you are looking to add a feature to your home or become a new stockist, all that remains is to get in touch with the Norse Stone team!

Guide to Stone Finishes

With many domestic and commercial projects following the current trends and incorporating natural stone materials into their proposals, it can be difficult to tell what will be most well suited for each part of a design project. At Norse Stone, we are going to try to make that a bit easier for you!

You may have seen, heard or even experienced why we are so passionate about our local material, Caithness Flagstone, and know about its fantastic durability properties but did you know that not only can it be made to your dimensional requirements, but to your choice of surface and edge finish as well? In case you didn’t, we have put together a mini guide to the finishes available at Norse Stone and some of their most popular uses.

Riven Paving

Riven Paving

Weathered Riven Paving

Weathered Riven Paving

Brushed Riven Interior Flooring

Brushed Riven Interior Flooring

Antique Hearth

Antique Hearth

Matt Polished Worktop

Matt Polished Worktop

High Polish Coping

High Polish Coping

Let’s start with the most natural finish, Riven. A slightly rough textured surface, it isn’t machined at all and instead the unprocessed finish is determined from extraction. This finish is mainly used for exterior projects including paving, wall coping, cladding, window sills, slates, lintels steps and garden features but is also commonly used for hearths.

Weathered Riven has the same textural properties as standard Riven however instead of the well known dark grey Caithness flagstone you may be used to seeing, this stone comes in a variety of colours. Quarries, such as our Banniskirk site, have had stone left exposed to the elements for years causing the stone to oxidise and the colour to weather to create stunning brown/grey variations.

A Brushed Riven finish is machine brushed so that it has a slightly smoother surface than the stones natural texture but maintains the rustic appearance. Better suited to interior design projects, this finish lends itself well to flooring, hearths, fireplaces, steps and signage.

To achieve an Antique finish, the stone is machine smoothed and then brushed leaving just a slight texture behind. This finish is used predominantly for flooring, hearths, fireplaces, worktops and signage as well as memorials.

Matt Polished (also known as Honed) finish, is machine polished to a smooth surface texture and perfectly suited for interior use. Flooring, hearths, fireplaces and worktops are popular Matt Polished interior products alongside furniture, shower trays, window sills and tableware with some opting to use it in exterior design for memorials and signage. A further option with this finish is for the polished stone to be sealed and enhanced which gives the stone a darker, almost black, appearance. This is our most popular finish due to the stunning end result it gives across our product range.

The last, but by no means least, surface texture is the High Polished finish. Machine polished to a high sheen, it is then sealed and enhanced making it the perfect show stopping interior finish. Used throughout the home, it is most popular for hearths, fireplaces, worktops, tableware, window sills, wet wall, tiles and shower trays.

Now for our most popular edge finishes starting with the Flamed Edge. This effect is accomplished with a straight sawn edge which has been flamed using extreme heat to blister the cut surface giving the edge a natural Riven appearance to match a Riven finished top. The edging effect is used primarily for building finishing materials including rustic hearths, steps, window sills and benches.

Another alternative option is our Natural Edge finish. Natural fractures in the quarry are prone to sources of calcite and minerals and with these fractures leaving stone exposed to many years of water filtration, they combine to alter the stone providing an edge effect with variety of colours. 

Now that you know your Riven from your High Polished (and everything in between!), you can decide on the perfect finish for your Norse Stone product. If you do have any further questions on stone finishes, please get in touch with our team or request a sample and let us know which Caithness flagstone finish is your favourite!

Stone Trends 2018

Norse Stone Blog

Like flared trousers and avocado bathroom suites, trends come and go but one item that never goes out of fashion is natural stone.  From modern and contemporary buildings to rustic country cottages, there is always a place to use natural products; inside and out.  And with architects and designers more commonly putting emphasis on using sustainable and crafted materials, stone is an obvious choice of material to use.

When considering stone, most would think of paving, roof tiles or walls and whilst these are all excellent uses, with its striking appearance and durability, Caithness Stone can do so much more.

As a truly versatile material, our stone can be used throughout interior design to bring a sense of nature and the outdoors in to your home.  A robust and non-absorbent material, it is ideal for kitchen or bathroom worktops and flooring, especially with the use of underfloor heating.  Frame your fireplace with a bespoke Caithness Flagstone surround and hearth to make it a stunning focal point for all to enjoy.  Whereas subtle touches including tables with stone tops, coasters and placemats add some interesting textures without intruding too much on the overall interior design.

Outside spaces, too, can benefit from using natural stone in its design.  Formed and quarried in a place that can see all four seasons in one day, Caithness Flagstone is amongst the most durable available making it ideal for exterior use.  Commonly sought after as a building material, it is used to produce traditional roof tiles and can create striking textures when used as external cladding.  It has been shipped all over the world to be used as paving and can be cut to your design for memorial benches and standing stones. Whilst exterior designers continue to use natural stone in landscaping to create a rugged but relaxing space to reconnect with nature.

With these trends set to continue the only question is, how will you be using natural stone in your projects?