Ashlar is finely dressed stone and is always precisely cut on all faces adjacent to those of other stones and when done correctly has the advantage of being capable of displaying very thin joints between blocks.

There is a difference between the English and the Scottish terminology for the surface finishes and the masons at McMillan Masonry purposely goad each other depending on whether they studied for their masonry qualifications in Edinburgh or Bath.

Surface finishes may be applied to the face of the stone to change the aesthetic of a plain Ashlar block. Some surface finishes are used because they are simple and cost effective, others require the stonemasons and their mallets to invest more time and so traditionally are reserved for more prestigious structures. Each surface finish requires a different chisel tool from the masons tool roll. The following are the seven principle surface finishes.


1. Droved (Scottish) / Boasted (English) is produced by striking a 2 inch boaster to leave a regular and uniformed indentation. This surface finish is normally produced parallel to the bedding plane or at a 45 degree angle.

2. Mel Point faced (Scottish) or furrowed (English) carried out using a fine tipped mel point or point to work along lines 1/4 inch apart to leave a furrowed effect. Each furrow should be parallel and equidistant.

3. 1 inch fielded panel (both) just brings structure and instant formality to any masonry component.

4. Stugged, Dabbed and broached (Scottish) Punched (English) is carried out using a thin nosed chisel all pointing in one direction and evenly spaced. Much deeper than the furrowed. The direction should be established to minimise the risk of trapping water in the deepest part of the stugs. Usually this is done within a fielded panel to leave a crisp streak of a white mortar joint.

5. Picked (English) or pecked (Scottish). Again this is normally done within a fielded panel using a claw tool (Scottish) or tooth tool (English) which come in the half inch, inch or two inch and effectively the mason just breaks apart the sawn surface to leave a picked panel.

6. Rock or Pitch faced (both Jocks and Sassenachs ) is used to give a rustic look to regular Ashlar blocks with their exact and uniformed joints by taking a Pitcher (English) or Cleura (Scottish) and striking the inside of the arris around the face of the stone. This blows the surface to leave a natural rock finish.

7. Tooled or batted (both) similar to boasted but where the stone mason uses a batting chisel. Which is a purpose made tool that has no other use (unlike the boaster) other than for creating this classic dressed Georgian/ Victorian appearance.

8. Reticulated (both Scottish and English) is produced by sinking polygonal shapes, separated by ribs, into the surface of the stone. All ribs are parallel on either side and of an uniform width. Equally the sinkings should be of unuiformed depth and may then have an additional surface finish, such as sparrow pecking, applied to the plain sinking. Sparrow pecking is a disturbed pitted surface achieved with a claw chisel (English) or tooth tool (Scottish)

9. Vermiculated finish is similar to the Reticulated but has irregular shapes sunk in and separated by ribs of uniformed shape and size.


We can create Balustrades and Parapet Screening to meet all projects and designs whether for a newly created project or restoring and matching existing masonry.

Standard balustrades are lathe turned in any suitable stone of our client’s choice to ensure a cost effective service.