I meant to showcase this peculiar item earlier, but with the removal of the fireplace surround I finally have decent photographs of it. It is a slab of sorts, bearing the initials and (presumed or approximate) date of the attributed builder of our house, set into the left wall of the firebox of our kitchen fireplace:
Here it is up close. It measures about 9 inches wide by 18 inches tall, and 3 to 4 inches deep:
This firebox was repointed in 1952 (when it was brought to light after being walled up) and perhaps more substantially rebuilt then or later. The crane may date from then too. This slab is likely modern, someone’s idea of inserting some sort of ‘ye olde hearthstone’ in the fireplace (this house reveals other similar, weird flights of faux atop real). On the other hand, could it have been some sort of thing repurposed from somewhere else? I do not think it is a gravestone! The year given on this slab, 1783, was not associated with building this house until the 1980s. Earlier writers who discussed this house only guessed at the likely dates, suggesting that the slab either did not exist then, or was not known since the kitchen fireplace was walled up.
So when was it made, and, and for that matter, what was it made out of? I had thought something like slate or basalt, but it could be something else — limestone or even concrete? This oblique view shows more of the depth and texture of the thing, including the older, tighter brick level with and to the right of the slab, and the replaced bricks with wide modern mortar below it:
Any thoughts and comparisons (indeed, any notice of similar old or modern things in fireplaces) are welcome!