flagstone

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?

Ready-Made, Made-To-Measure or Bespoke?

Hearths, worktops, flooring, paving and building stone have always been highly sought after products with a vast range of natural and man-made options readily available but what happens when readily available and mass produced just don’t fit? Whether it’s because you have a structure with uneven walls, a boundary at slightly unusual angles or boxed services that cut into your dream kitchen layout, Norse Stone can produce products to your exact requirements.

You might come across three main product descriptions; ready-made, made-to-measure and bespoke. Ready-made are standard designs, shapes and sizes that you buy off the shelf and made-to-measure is the standard design and shape with the option of choosing your sizes although the available sizes can still be limited. So what is the difference then between made-to-measure and bespoke? Bespoke is where almost every aspect of the product can be chosen. Let’s take a hearth as an example, one of our most popular bespoke made products. Each customer can have different requirements whether it is specific dimensions, a different hearth shape, a preferred finish or if cut outs are needed for service connections. With each project as unique and individual as the client themselves, why choose an inadequate “one-size-fits-all” when you could have a bespoke piece made to suit and fit in its surroundings?

Norse Stone Caithness Flagstone
Norse Stone Caithness flagstone hearth

Check out this work in progress photographed at our Lieurary quarry. It usually starts off as a simple sketch, more accurate dimensions are then added and, from these, a template can be produced. The optimum stone having been extracted from our own quarry is selected by our expert team and the template is placed on top, ready for cutting to shape.

If you have read our previous blog posts, you may have seen our stone finishes guide, it’s at this point that the chosen finish is applied to the newly cut stone. As a recap, Riven is the natural texture, Brushed Riven is slightly smoother, Antique is just a slight texture, Matt Polished (or Honed) is a smooth surface and High Polished is perfectly smooth with a high sheen. Edge finishes are also added along with optional sealing, oiling and cut outs.

The finished product is a combination of careful planning, thoughtful design and the use of high quality materials, skills and techniques. Using these, the customer can be sure of a stunning end product perfectly suited to their space.

Norse Stone Caithness Flagstone Hearth
Norse Stone Caithness Flagstone Hearth

But the hearth is just one example that our onsite design team specialise in with bespoke services available across our range of worktops, memorials, flooring, building stone and paving. So when planning your next design project, don’t settle for a simple ready-made or made-to-measure, which won’t do you or your project justice, find out how you can have your perfect product made exactly the way you want!

Get in touch with the Norse Stone team today.