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Since the beginning of time, where man has built with stone, Masons have marked their work. An early example of this can be seen at Masada on stone taken 2000 years ago from the quarries at Jerusalem.
Here, Masons engraved their personal marks as signatures and as an indication of the position of each stone relative to the next. Masons’ Marks can be seen on buildings throughout the world and offer a fascinating insight to the progress of civilisation throughout the ages.
In Speculative Masonry, possibly the earliest documented reference to ‘the Mark’ can be found in the Schaw Statutes of 1598: “no Master or Fellow-of-Craft is to be received or admitted except in the presence of six Masters and two Entered Apprentices,…. the date thereof being orderly booked and his name and Mark inserted in the said book.”
In Yorkshire, it is claimed that Mark Masonry has been practised since ‘Time Immemorial’, being worked in Craft Lodges and consisting of two ceremonies, or Degrees. The first came after the Fellowcraft Degree where the candidate was ‘made’ a Mark Man, and the second after the Master Mason’s Degree when he was advanced to the Degree of Mark Master Mason.
To this day, the Mark is considered to be the completion of the Fellowcraft degree and in a number of countries – Scotland and Ireland in particular -the Mark is still taken in Craft Lodges as an integral part of the Second Degree.
In England, Mark Masons established their own Grand Mark Lodge in 1856 and the two Mark ceremonies were combined into one. Since then it has been conferred, not in Craft Lodges, but in Mark Lodges consecrated for that purpose.