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Mason’s Marks

Masons marks were inscribed on the stones of the church during construction by the stone-masons themselves. It is believed that they were used to indicate which mason had actually carried out which piece of work - and allowed them to be paid accordingly. One church may contain many different marks, such as Wighton, or many copies of the same symbol, such as Norwich Cathedral. Mason’s marks tend to be quite simple markings, usually neatly executed and involving a series of straight lines. This gave them the advantage of being produced with the minimum of effort whilst still being distinctive.

Mason’s marks can be located just about anywhere in a church. However, unlike the more general graffiti markings, they also tend to appear higher up on the stonework, in areas that could only be reached with the aid of scaffolding or a ladder. What isn’t currently clear is whether mason’s continued with the same markings throughout their careers? Did their apprentices develop a variation on the theme of their master’s mark, or did they develop an entirely new symbol. Were mason’s marks passed from generation to generation? The fundamental problem with interpretation of mason’s marks is whether the same symbol appearing in two different churches was actually created by the same individual mason? Although not technically graffiti we also record all the examples that we come across.