Marriage stone

A marriage stone is usually a stone lintel carved with the initials, coat of arms, etc. of a newly married couple with the date of the marriage. They were very popular up until Victorian times, but fell out of general use in the 20th century. Many survive due to their having been carved in stone or wood and because they are part of, or they are in the grounds of listed and therefore protected buildings.


Marriage stones serve as a record of a marriage, especially important in aristocratic families and also sometimes practiced amongst the newly established and monied middle classes. They were sometimes added to a building which was constructed specifically as the new family home for the married couple, especially when the dowry was large, or were carved into a pre-existing lintel. The stones also clearly indicated the ownership of the building to onlookers at the time as well as serving as a record for posterity of both marital bliss and often also of social advancement.

Datestones are a subtly different category in that they primarily commemorate the construction of a building rather than record a marriage. They may do both and such symbolism as entwined hearts indicates that they serve to perform both functions. Datestones are far more common than Marriage stones and are found on most types of vernacular buildings, indeed they are in vogue again today (2007), partly through the influence of the significance of the 2000 millennium year. Some buildings have both Marriage stones and datestones, such as 'The Hill' at Dunlop, which has a date stone on the 'mansion house' and even the gateposts are dated.


The stones were placed where they would be easily and frequently seen by visitors, usually on the lintel above the front door of a house or in a prominent position facing the entrance or in the gardens, such as above a doorway in wall.


Usually carved into stone or sometimes wood, they can be very detailed, with usually only the initials of the married couple, the date of the marriage and sometimes the Coat of arms of the two families, just those of the husband and very rarely the combined coats of arms of both families. In some cases the adornment was religious in nature, such as at 'The Hill' farm mansion house (see Photograph) or an artistic design simply placed there as an ornamentation. The designs are found cut into the stone or standing proud of the rock face. Originally some of these stones would have been brightly painted and adorned with gilt.

Examples of Marriage Stones





Modern marriage stones

A two ton Scottish granite Marriage stone was created for the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, 9th April 2005. Unusually this has carvings on both sides.

Stones associated with marriage

The Treustein

Many synagogues in Germany were constructed with a built-in 'treustein', or "marriage stone" at a corner of the structure facing the inner synagogue courtyard, which bore the initial Hebrew letters of the appropriate verse from Jeremiah, i.e. God's blessing to Abraham: "I will greatly bless you, and I will exceedingly multiply your children as the stars in heaven.". In these communities, the culmination of the marriage ceremony was marked by the groom throwing a glass goblet and shattering it at the 'treustein'.

Hindu weddings

In the Hindu's marriage ceremony the bride stands on a stone to symbolise her commitment to the marriage during times of difficulty and the couple walk seven times round the sacred fire reciting a prayer at each stage.

Holed stones

On the crest of a hill in Antrim, Northern Ireland, sits a Bronze Age standing stone or 'holestone'. It is 1.5 metres high, with a 10cm diameter hole cut into it. It is not known why the Holestone was created, but has attracted visitors seeking external love and happiness since at least the 18th-century. Upon reaching the Holestone couples undertake a traditional ceremony where the woman reaches her hand through the circular hole and her partner takes it, thus pledging themselves to love each other forever. There is a legend regarding a black horse that inhabits the field in which the holestone is situated. According to this legend a young couple were married at the stone, but the groom committed an act of adultery on their wedding night. For this act he was cursed by the stone to spend eternity as a horse, never dying, and never able to leave that field.

See also

External links

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