Current Affairs

New specification for memorial stones published

A new specification for memorial stones in burial grounds and memorial sites has been published, five months after the standards were revised.

The 2018 version of BS 8415 took an extended amount of time to produce than what was intended due to “controversial issues”, namely the fixing of memorials and the testing of systems used to fix them.

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Over 160 comments were received when the standard was put out for public consultation at the end of 2017 and after the deadline had passed, more comments were submitted.

The draft specification included a testing method for fixing systems that involved digging a pit and filling it with medium or coarse sand and fine gravel.

Anton Matthews of Stone-Safe, who advised the British Standards Institution (BSI) on the specification, uses the new fixing system which is done using dug holes filled with mortar to support a metal reinforced concrete beam through which bolts pass to secure a headstone and its base.

In order to comply with the new version of the British Standard, fixing systems will have to be tested again under the new conditions. The Blast Shop, which supplies some of the ground anchors used by memorial masons, has already said it might reduce the number of alternatives it offers so fewer will have to be retested.

The standard is advisory rather than obligatory, although most insurance companies require work to be carried out to current best practice and a BSI standard will often be considered to constitute best practice. Some memorial authorities also require memorials and their fixings to comply with the standard.

The National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) has always said ground anchors are not supposed to prevent headstones from moving but are intended to avoid them “failing catastrophically”. The body has consistently argued that since ground anchors were introduced as the accepted method of fixing headstones there have been no injuries resulting from the failure of the fixing system.

Copies of the standard cost £198 from BSI (£99 for BSI members) and they can be purchased on the BSI website.

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