The Mason’s Mark Project
Over the years people have recorded mason’s marks on buildings simply by drawing a few marks they have seen, but rarely or never give any indication of the exact location, or age of the structure they found the mark on. A few other people even try to follow one specific mark, thinking they are following the same mason from building to building, by looking for it around the country/ countries. However they quite often do this without taking into account the age of the different buildings they have noted it on and just assume it is the same mason.
Since the Mason’s Mark Project first really started in about 2008 it has changed considerably over the intervening years. While the initial few surveys did keep things fairly simple, it soon became evident that much more knowledge could be gained by undertaking a full survey of a building, both internally & externally. Now every mark is recorded, stone by stone, given its own number and noted on plans and elevations as to its exact location, photographed and also recorded on survey sheets. The dates of the different building phases are also noted if there is evidence to suggest such.
Later, during the cataloguing of the survey results, each mark that is the same is allocated to an individual mason who is given a number, along with the mark number and the unique site code of the building. For example BERW mason mark 0003-0145; BERW mason mark 0003-1024, BERW (Site code) mason mark 0003 (individual mason) – 0255 (mark number). Later a chart is drawn up with the different areas of the building on it along with the list of the different masons and number of marks allocated to him and this shows exactly where each mason worked. More information is again gained from this simple chart.
A full survey is hard and can be tiring work, but so much more information about a building can be gained from it. If done properly it is a great way for a group to work together and can open people eyes to buildings they thought they knew well.
Moira Greig (Aberdeenshire Archaeology Service)