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May 2009: For The Record

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May 2009

For The Record

Information about the Masonry Industry

The Making of a Mason

Have you ever stopped to think about how your profession came to be, or how long masons have been around, creating historical structures that are still being admired today? Unlike the “I.T. guy” or the “head mechanic” at a typical company, your position is one of long-standing tradition – something that, hopefully, makes you feel proud.

As an editor, I am often sent books to review from various publishing companies. One book I recently received stands out as both interesting and educational. “Builders & Decorators: Medieval Craftsmen in Wales” by Nicola Coldstream features stories that are fascinating, and the illustrations are colorful in depicting different disciplines. The author focuses heavily on masons, but also on sculptors, carpenters, tillers, painters and glaziers.

Following is an excerpt from the book:

“By the 13th century, masons and other craftsmen were almost invariably laymen. The man in overall charge of the building site was the master mason. He was a remarkable individual: designer, engineer and contractor all in one. Medieval builders did not distinguish between the roles of what would nowadays be the work of three different professionals…The master mason was essentially a builder, who received his training at the quarry and on the building site. The best or most ambitious masons also learned design skills, rising through the ranks of ordinary masons – journeymen – to become masters and take charge of building projects…The master mason often contracted to provide a team of journeymen masons himself. Yet even when he did so, there is only occasional evidence that they formed a coherent group, moving as a team from site to site.”

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of this book, email cadw.sales@wales.gsi.gov.uk. Consider yourself lucky: You get to contribute to the world’s rich history by adding structures and beauty.

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