Mason's Marks in Herefordshire


English Heritage


Year published


Supporting documents




Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Mason's Marks in Herefordshire', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 3: North West (1934), pp. 221-222. URL: Date accessed: 25 November 2014.


(Min 3 characters)


These are unusually numerous in Herefordshire despite the probability that many must have disappeared owing to modern retooling and restoration. They are generally well defined, and some are really deep incisions: they range in size from about one inch, like the elaborate mark No. 73, of which many are seen at Canon Pyon, to as much as six or seven inches, but the majority average two to three inches.

They are particularly numerous at the Cathedral in every period from the early 12th century to the 16th century. Some are obviously initial letters, but the greater number are lines, crosses, angles, arrow-heads, etc., with many variants and elaborations.

An interesting form is the pentagram or 'Solomon's seal,' No. 35, which, although rare, is found several times in both Ledbury and Leominster churches; it has a variant in the sixpointed star or interlacing triangles, also found at Ledbury.

The bows and arrows, occurring many times in the Cathedral and elsewhere, the swastika, of which only two single examples (at Brinsop and Garway) have been discovered, the key, the mason's square and other designs are also of interest. The forms of shields with cheverons, on the N. Porch of the Cathedral, are each repeated and, as they appear sideways, were presumably cut before the stones were placed in position.

Those scratchings, of which no second example has been found, are shown separately, but they generally occur among the more numerous repeated marks in the same piece of architecture, and therefore may in some cases be assumed to be the master mason's work.

Other scratchings and incisions have been noticed, but are not illustrated as they are not the marks of the original craftsmen. Many churches appear to have no marks at all except on one particular part of the structure, such as an arcade, or a chapel added later (as at Bosbury and Garway), while in other cases, as at the Cathedral and Kington Church, they are found throughout the whole building.


Mediaeval Masons' Marks in Herefordshire

Mediaeval Masons' Marks in Herefordshire

1–13, 77Hereford CathedralEarly 12th-century.Presbytery, etc.
2, 4, 8, 13, 14–19, 79–82.Early 13th-century.Lady Chapel and crypt.
5Mid 13th-century.Clearstorey of Presbytery.
5, 15, 20, 88Stairturret N. of Presbytery.
13, 16Late 13th-century.N. Transept, E. arcade, etc.
1–6, 13, 14, 21–37, 84–97, 89.Early 14th-century.Aisles, N.E. Transept, and N. Porch.
38, 39, 401389–1404.S. Transept W. wall.
13, 27, 41, 47, 90.1453–1474.Stanbery Chapel.
9215th-century.Quire Vestry.
5, 13, 22, 38, 41–43, 94.1492–1502.Audley Chapel.
26, 44Late 15th-century.Pillar to S.E. Transept.
1, 5, 13, 27, 45–49, 91, 93.Late 15th-century.Extension to Sacristy.
13, 23, 60, 95, 96.Early 16th-century.Booth (North) Porch.
1, 2, 5, 7, 13, 16, 22, 24, 26, 35, 38, 50, 97, 98.Leominster Priory,early 12th-century arcades, etc.
51" "later 12th-century Triforium.
23, 74, 105" "15th-century Tower arch.
13" "" W. window.
38Middleton Church,mid 12th-century Chancel-arch.
25, 35, 52, 99.Ledbury Church,late 12th-century Chancel.
20" "14th-century N. Porch, etc.
1, 4, 5, 23, 27, 35, 53, 100, 101.Tarrington Church,12th-century stones.
13, 54Madley Church,early 13th-century arcades.
4, 8, 13, 23, 24, 58.St. Peters, Hereford,mid-late 13th-century Tower.
2, 59Winforton Church,13th-century windows.
55, 56, 57Bodenham Church,early 14th-century arcades.
2, 5, 8, 23All Saints, Hereford,c. 1300, N. Chapel.
1, 23, 26, 58, 60–64, 102.Kington Church,c. 1300–10 arcades.
65Pembridge Church,early 14th-century Chancel-arch.
2, 13, 26, 27, 66, 67.Weobley Church,early 14th-century arcades.
4, 68, 69Ocle Pychard Church,early 14th-century.
2, 23, 60Kinnersley Church,c. 1320–40.
4, 5, 22Eardisland Church,c. 1330–40.
1, 2, 4, 5, 52Richard's Castle Church,mid 14th-century.
2, 3, 27, 103, 104.Brinsop Church,mid 14th-century.
5, 64, 70, 71, 72Brinsop Court,mid 14th-century.
2Marden Church,c. 1340 Tower.
4Dorstone Church,14th-century S. doorway.
20, 73Canon Pyon Church,late 14th-century Tower.
1, 4, 16Walford-on-Wye,14th-century Bell chamber.
4, 27, 35Bosbury Church,early 16th-century, S. Chapel.
3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 25, 104, 106, 107.Garway Church,early 16th-century, S. Chapel.
42, 75, 76Wilton Bridge,early 16th-century.