Some masons marks at the Rock of Cashel

I ended up at The Rock of Cashel  in Co Tipperary a few weeks ago.  The Rock, one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions, is  chock-a-block with interesting architectural and archaeological remains.

In my opinion large sites like the Rock deserve several visits. From my own experience each time  I return I see something new that I missed on previous visits.  This visit was no exception as I discovered some tiny  mason’s marks I had never noticed before.

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View of the Rock of Cashel

A recently  conversation about masons marks found at medieval sites in South Tipperary was on my mind during my visit.   I asked  one of the tour guides  if there were any at the site and she directed me to  a number within the main Cathedral church and a building known as The Hall of Vicars Choral.

The Cathedral Nave

A group of at least three masons marks are located on a large column against the West wall of the nave of the  Cathedral church. The church is a Gothic church without aisles built-in the 13th century. A residential tower of  15th century date was inserted into West end of the nave.  The column  is built against the exterior  wall of this tower within the nave.

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Column built against the west wall of the nave of the church and the residential tower.

There are at least three tiny masons marks on the column. It takes patience to find them, if you are in a hurry  ask a tour guide to point them out.

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Linear masons mark

The marks are so tiny, I  used my pen for scale for the ones I could reach.  They are hard to make out and there  may very well be more  that  I missed.

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Masons Mark at Cathedral at the Rock of Cashel

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Masons Mark at Cathedral on the Rock of Cashel

As I was leaving the Cathedral  I noted two more square masons mark in the outer doorway of the porch, which projects from the S wall of the nave and was the main entrance to the cathedral.

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View of main entrance, porch in the South wall of the Cathedral on the Rock of Cashel.

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Masons marks on the door of the porch leading into Cathedral Church at The Rock of Cashel.

The Hall of Vicars Choral

Additional masons marks are found in The Hall of Vicars Choral a two storey building  of 15th century date that  forms part of the enclosure of the site.

The upper level of the building  comprises of a hall for the Vicars, within is a large fireplace  found in the south wall with the inscription

E.S. ET E.H. ME FIERI FE[CERunt]’

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Fireplace with inscription in The Hall of Vicars Choral.

Within the inscription are  tiny figure of eight and diamond shape with a   circle attached. I thought these might be masons marks  but archaeologist Eamonn Cotter told me these are full stops and it was common to have stop marks between letters or groups of letters on fireplace inscriptions ( as at Barryscourt Castle Co Cork).

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Possible masons marks within the inscription of Fireplace of The Hall of Vicars Choral.

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Possible masons marks within the inscription of Fireplace in The Hall of Vicars Choral.

In the next room from the hall  (an  area restored as  a kitchen),  I noticed  another masons mark on the west wall on the south side of  another fire-place.

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Masons mark found in The Hall of Vicars Choral.

For details on opening times  and admission cost see http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-east/rockofcashel/

I look forward to visiting the Rock again. I am sure that I will find something  new that I have not noticed before.

5 comments on “Some masons marks at the Rock of Cashel

  1. Kay says:

    Were the marks a form of identification for individual masons or did the symbolize something?

    • ken mitchell says:

      They were more like a certificate of qualifification, proof that the mason was a master mason.They also hadvarious forms of identification such as secret handshakes and passwords for the same reason. This tradition is contimued today with modern freemasonry

    • yes kind of like an identification mark each mason had unique mark which means you can track where they worked.

  2. Mike says:

    Marks were assigned to a Mason at the end of his apprenticeship and he placed his mark on all his completed work. This was to ensure quality work.

  3. Finola says:

    Agreed – it’s amazing what new things you notice every time you visit one of these sites.

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