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.

Crosses on the camino

There are thousands of crosses on the caminos through Spain - here are a few.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sant'Iago Killer of Spaniards!!

Santiago Mataespanois (Killer of Spaniards)
There have been recent reports of Muslims obejcting to scupltures, paintings and carvings of Santiago Matamoros (killer of Moors). Someone should tell them that the very same imaginary figure, was also the killer of the Spaniards!
Jacobus, brother of John, son of Zebedee was a fisherman who evolved into the archetypal hero of Western culture. From Sant’ Iago Peregrino to Sant'Iago Matamoros - killer of the Moors: to Sant’ Iago Mataindios - killer of Indians: to Sant’ Iago Mataespañois - killer of Spaniards - everyone wanted him as their hero!
In Mexico City there is a carving from the altarpiece of the Church of Santiago Tlatelolco showing him as Santiago Mataindios - the Indian-slayer.
And although Christianity and the Catholic religion were taken to the Americas by the Spaniards, when Mexico fought to obtain its independence from Spain in 1810, Sant’ Iago was exalted as Santiago Mataespañois - the slayer of Spaniards!
In Peru, during an indigenous uprising in 19th-century they adopted Santiagoas its champion, using the "Matamoros" iconography of “Santiago Mataespañois” that in Peru had come to be associated with a pre-Columbian deity who drove out evil forces. There is a mid-19thC silver statue of Santiago Mataespañois in the Museum of Pilgrimages in Santiago de Compostela.
and another one – scroll down to under Ano 1998 - (as well as pictures of items from the museum) here:
You can see the altarpiece of Santiago Mataindios here (click on the photo to enlarge it)

You can see paintings of Santiago Matamoros and Mataindios together here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Of slugs and sundials - weasels and weathervanes

I took photographs of all sorts of things on the camino - from giant slugs to 400 year-old sundials, weasels to weathervanes. Here are just a few.