medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
From: John Briggs <[log in to unmask]>
> Christopher Crockett wrote:
>> are the "cementarii" the low guys on the totum pole or are they at
the top, above the "quarry/stoneworkers" and "stonecuters"?
> "Cementarius" is generally used for 'mason',
in Niermeyer and the new Latham (under "caementarius", in the latter).
apparently from "caementare", to "melt together, amalgamate" and "caementum",
"cement, mortar, concrete".
suggesting that, *technically*, the term only applied to those workers who
dressed out the stone and set it in place (with mortar).
in Latham, the first meaning: "used for building, b. (w/ ars, opus, etc.),
"2. masonry, stonework
"3. mason... freemason, i.e., worker in freestone".
this last is quite curious, but the OED has an interesting bit about the
etymology which i will insert at the end of this missile.
>"Cementarius" is generally used for 'mason', usually those in charge.
nothing i can see about being "in charge" associated with c[a]ementarius.
>I don't see why "quarrymen" shouldn't be just that.
what, "in charge"?
>Remember, the quarry (at least for most of the building stone) would be quite
the building stone for the cathedral of Chartres came from the village of
Bercheres, en plien Beauce, about 10+km from the city.
it is not clear to me whether the stone would have been hauled overland, over
the wretched roads, up the slight incline of the plain; or carried to the Eure
just a few hundred meters away and floated down the river to the _basse ville_
of the city.
the latter would have been easier overall, except for the last bit, when the
stones would have had to have been carried from the valley floor up the fairly
steep hill to the building site.
interestingly enough, recent petrographic analysis has demonstrated that the
stones for the *sculpture* of the cathedral came from a quarry which is now in
>Also, you have to remember that much of the roughing out of the stone would
have been done at the quarry, with the final carving being done on site before
it was hoisted aloft.
which has caused some over-enthusiastic Art Hysterians to assert that
virtually all *sculpture* in the Paris basin was actually carved in Paris, in
central "factory" at the quarry, and dispatched from there, presumably with
paint and all.
this strikes me, as a practical matter, as simply absurd.
yes, for purposes of saving weight/labor, the building stones would have been
roughed out as much as possible at the quarry, but there was probably a
considerable amount of final trimming down which had to have been done
excavations in the mid-80s which i saw at the abbey of St. Peter's, down the
hill from the cathedral (also of Bercheres stone, but just a few steps away
from the river), uncovered truely *massive* amounts of stone chips and
castings, surely evidence of the extent of the extensive final trimming done
on that site.
>Probably the distinction between the "roughmasons" and the "freemasons".
i do not have such a distinction in my documents, neither term being used,
unless i define my Latin in this fashion, circular fashion, without any
context to support that.
>So there could easily be three classes of 'stone cutters'. As well as
yes, but two questions arise:
1) which is "higher" in the Lithical Pecking Order, the "cementarii" or the
b) would the scribes who composed my very mundane charters have been sensitive
enough (or motivated enough) to apply these technical distinctions to the
clearly rather humble men who were ***brought into the abbey's chapter*** to
serve as juridical witnesses?
further confusing the issue --and before you answer that last question-- is
the fact that it looks like the very *same* men are sometimes styled
"cementarius", sometimes "cesor lapidum".
thanks for your thoughts, John.
OED at FREEMASON:
The precise import with which the adj. was originally used in this designation
has been much disputed. Three views have been propounded.
(1) The suggestion that free mason stands for free-stone mason would appear
unworthy of attention, but for the curious fact that the earliest known
instances of any similar appellation are mestre mason de franche peer,
‘master mason of free stone’ (Act 25 Edw. III. st. II. c. 3, A.D. 1350),
and sculptores lapidum liberorum, ‘carvers of free stones’, alleged to
occur in a document of 1217 (tr. Findel's Hist. Mas. 51, citing Wyatt
Papworth); the coincidence, however, seems to be merely accidental.
(2) The view most generally held is that free masons were those who were
‘free’ of the masons' guild (see FREE a. 29). Against this explanation
many forcible objections have been brought by Mr. G. W. Speth, who suggests
(3) that the itinerant masons were called ‘free’ because they claimed
exemption from the control of the local guilds of the towns in which they
temporarily settled. (4) Perhaps the best hypothesis is that the term refers
to the mediæval practice of emancipating skilled artisans, in order that they
might be able to travel and render their services wherever any great building
was in process of construction.]
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