Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It was customary in the middle ages for stone masons to place their marks in stones. These marks identified the work of a particular mason for payment of wages, and indicated that the stone was acceptable for use. Other marks specified where a particular stone should be placed within the structure. Marks have been found on stones used in Ancient Egypt and elsewhere, including castles, churches and cathedrals of Europe. A register of marks became necessary to identify the personal mark of each mason. The first written reference to mason's marks occurred in Scotland, in the Schaw Statutes of 1598, where it was stated that on the admission of a Fellow of Craft, his name and mark were to be registered.
One can follow a mason by identifying his mark on monuments, churches and cathedrals - some that would have taken many years to build. It is presumed that the stone with the large sign on the wall of the collegiate church in Roncesvalles was recycled from an earlier structure, possibly the 10th C hospice which was demolished in the 1600's.
Eunate Santa Maria is almost covered in mason marks and at Villafranca del Bierzo, Jesus Jato showed me many stones that were donated from all over Europe - and even Brazil - to rebuild Ave Fenix after it was burned down.
When you look at a monument, church or cathedral, look closely and you will see many signs in the stones.

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