Carved Stones along the River Aire


carved stone butterfly

Carving a Red Admiral Butterfly into one of the marker stones

Earlier in the year I worked with Arup, (an independent firm of designers, engineers, architects, planners, consultants and technical specialists in the built environment), to create a memorial walk along the River Aire in Leeds.

Carved stone Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly carving

They had seen a stone I’d carved previously and thought that something similar, scaled up, would suit the project.  Along an 800 metre stretch of the river there would be a stone marker every 100 metres, nine in total, each carved with a vignette depicting various wildlife found in and around the river.

A bat carved in stone

Carving a Common Pipistrelle bat into one of the marker stones

Common Pipistrelle bat carved in stone

Common Pipistrelle bat carving

Firstly the round Yorkshire sandstone columns were made, and the tops chamfered so that a plaque could be fixed on each one.  The carvings were inset into hollowed circles on the front of each stone column.  The wildlife species chosen for the carvings were Grey Heron, Salmon, Fox, Otter, Red Admiral butterfly, Common Pipistrelle bat, Banded Demoiselle damselfly, Cormorant and Kingfisher.

starting carving a heron in stone     carving a heron in stone

heron carving progress     stages of carving a heron in stone

Heron carved in stone

Stages of carving a Grey Heron into one of the marker stones


I’ve loved carving these roundels, with the creature seeming to emerge from inside the column and look out on the world, or resting there protected by the little hollow.  There was a real significance and poignancy too, in each of the stone columns a little bit of Ben, and a gift in his memory to all those who use and enjoy the walkway.

All the completed stones are now in place along the river bank, you can see them here,  and look very much at home.

Huge thanks to the Arup team in Leeds who have been lovely to work with and for help with a seamless installation (and for explaining all about the Flood Alleviation work at the site and what a moveable weir is!) – it has been a great pleasure.

Memorial Walk along the River Aire in Leeds





  1. Comment by Ellen Abbott:

    what a lovely commission!

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      Yes indeed! A rather special project to be involved with, I was very pleased to be asked to do it.

  2. Comment by Caroline:

    What a special commission, and what superb work, Jennifer. I first encountered Arup in connection with his design (with Lubetkin) for the iconic London Penguin Pool. I hope you have seen more Red Admirals about this summer than we have here… There have been plenty of ‘whites’ and more Brimstones than usual, but the ‘red’ varieties have been noticeable by their absence.

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      Thankyou Caroline! The pool is a rather exciting aquatic sculpture – it reminds me of the bridge they built over the weir, which makes you walk in wavy lines!

      It seems to have been a funny year for butterflies, far fewer early on, and now I’m seeing more – the sloes seem to be attractive to them just now. Do you know why ‘reds’ would be fewer? Is it a regional thing?

  3. Comment by Caroline:

    Yes, possibly regional to some extent, Jennifer, as fellow bloggers a bit further west have seen Peacocks and Red Admirals etc. This has been my best year ever for Brown Argus, a species that had hardly crossed my radar before. It’s difficult to know what to make of reports like this:

    I guess we shall have better evidence once the Big Butterfly Count survey results for 2018 are published in due course.

    Thank you for posting the photo of the wavy-line design.

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      So interesting, and I’ll keep my eye open for the survey results. I suppose there are bound to be both winners and losers in the climate change story, and we can expect changes for certain.

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