Iain Ross Wallace

Our knowledge and understanding of medieval buildings in Scotland, and indeed elsewhere, is conditioned by the historical record, which invariably focuses on those at the upper end of society who occupied the buildings. This research will expand our understanding of the construction of these buildings and those who undertook the work by enabling us to identify, at least by symbols, those who were directly involved in their building. Stonemasons and their marks are all but invisible in the archaeological and historical record. Marks served to facilitate correct construction and quality control and to enable correct payment for work done. Marks were required as the majority of the population was illiterate. Once construction was completed and payment had been recorded the mark served no further purpose and was inevitably covered over by plaster, or hidden by other stonework.

This multi-disciplinary research project is investigating the existence and survival of stonemasons’ marks on castles and churches in central and southern Scotland. The research has investigated the chronological and geographical distribution of the marks found. The data has been analysed to identify how many different marks and, by interpretation, how many masons worked at the sites surveyed. The potential for familial connections between different marks have been explored. Comparisons of marks found with those identified on charters and other contemporaneous records have been made in an attempt to identify individual masons by name. Marks have been record by drawing and photography and the database has been constructed to facilitate the creation of maps showing distribution patterns, by chronology and by individual mark, enabling the identification of work patterns of individual masons. It is intended to publish the research and to make the database available electronically to encourage and facilitate further research.

Research title

Leaving your mark in History. The masons marks of castles and defended houses of Scotland.



  • Scottish Historical Research Framework 2016 - £340 Accommodation costs for site visits
  • Sue Green Bursary 2017 - £204 Travel costs for site visits


EAA 2017 (Maastricht) Presenting a paper on stonemasons marks research to date (August 2017)


Additional information