Monday 8 April 2013

Masons to preserve marks for future genealogists

The Masons Livery Company, one of the oldest of London¹s Livery Companies with records dating back to 1356, is to create a register of masons' marks.

Masons' marks date back at least 2,000 years. Throughout history they have been a practical way for masons to identify which pieces of masonry they have produced. In the past, the marks were used both as a way for masons to ensure they were paid for their work and as a quality control.

While the tradition of masons' marks has become lost to modern, thin cladding, a lot of masons still maintain it, creating their own mark and taking it with them throughout their career. They use the mark on traditional masonry sections they are called upon to produce. It is particularly prevalent in conservation and ecclesiastical workshops.

When old masonry is removed for repair and restoration work, masons' marks cut into the stone perhaps hundreds of years ago are exposed. But there is seldom any way of relating the mark to the mason who created it.

By starting to collect masons' marks with details of the individual using them, the Worshipful Company of Masons, as the livery company is known, intends to make it possible for future generations to identify the mason who carried out earlier work.

It is in the nature of traditional stonemasonry that it tends to survive for centuries and the Masons Company Register of Masons' Marks will build into a useful resource for family historians in the decades and centuries ahead.

It also hoped to formalise the adoption of masonry marks by encouraging colleges to ask their students to create a mark on the successful completion of their studies and then submit that mark to the Masons Company for inclusion on the Register. The mark will then become the individual mason's property, protected by copyright.