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Engraving of a Stonemason from the Book of Trades


The work of the stonemason consists of the art of shaping stone or marble, cutting it for the purposes of building work. Masons use a variety of different stones, but Portland stone is considered the best and was used for prestigious projects such as Westminster Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral.

The basic tools for shaping the stone are a mallet, chisels, and a metal straight edge and much of the work is still done by hand.

Larger blocks of stone were roughly shaped by the stone-cutter before being passed to the stonemason.

Paviors or street masons used setts to make road and pavement surfaces.  Setts are distinct from cobbles as they are small blocks of shaped stone, usually granite, rather than naturally rounded rocks.

Click here for more information about stonemasons and builders' trade unions


Resources about Stonemasons in the library collection

Douglas Knoop and GP Jones, The medieval mason - an economic history of English stone building in the later Middle Ages and early modern times (1967) - Shelfmark: G03

JH Arnison, Pavior and street mason (1947) - Shelfmark: Y01

RW Postgate, The builders' history (1923) - Shelfmark: B33