Friday, 22 July 2011

FACTUAL REVIEW: Medieval Mason's - Malcolm Hislop

Release Date: 10/10/09


This book explains in detail the practice of masoncraft in the Middle Ages, using evidence from a number of sources. Monastic chronicles, building contracts and other contemporary documents have already revealed a good deal of information on the subject, but less attention has, until now, been paid to archaeological evidence preserved in numerous surviving Medieval buildings. Dr Hislop investigates how a study of certain features in these buildings, such as the stonework and building joints, can contribute to our knowledge of working practices of masons in medieval England. By focusing on how to interpret clues in the building structure, this account provides a practical guide to pursuing the study of masonry, and helps the reader to understand and identify the medieval mason's approach to design and constructional techniques.


In a world where we walk and fail to notice so many details, its fascinating to find a book that explores the wonderful constructions that are still standing centuries after their original construction where blocks of flats that were built in the last 30 years have long since been flattened due to the poor construction. It leaves you wondering what we knew then that we no longer know and what skills have been lost by the builders of modern times.

What Malcolm’s novel does is take the reader into these structures and reveals secrets that whilst may seem simplistic were key to not only the building but also in the longevity of these ancient structures. It’s fascinating and when you think of the tools that they had to work with it feels almost like a miracle that so many of them were built especially when you consider that some of the jobs concerned are now split into two different career paths. All in a fascinating journey and a read that I really enjoyed which whilst technical kept the subject alive as you walked through the structures. Visiting cathedrals will never be the same again and for the writer of either fantasy or historical fiction the technical knowledge will be invaluable.

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