Another distinct Scottish Masonic tradition.

We have previously discussed Lodges in Scotland prior to the existence of any Grand Lodge. We showed the earliest Lodge record which belonged to Lodge Aitcheson’s Haven and which was dated 9 January 1599.

These pre-Grand Lodge, Lodges were of all variants:

1) Stonemasons’ Lodges (that is the members were all stonemasons)
2) Mixed type A (that is the membership was partly stonemasons and partly speculative Masons but the majority were stonemasons)
3) Mixed type B (that is the membership was partly stonemasons and partly speculative Masons but the minority were stonemasons) and,
4) Lodges who’s membership was made up of entirely speculative Masons.

The problems this caused when some speculative Masons decided to form the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736 have been previously discussed but here we wish to consider one of the myriad consequences that demonstrate the connection between the pre-1717 Lodge’s and those of today.

In most Lodges in Scotland the Master and Wardens use a Maul. This was one of the main working tool of a stonemason. We know that stonemasons simply took their working tools from their daytime labour building site to Lodge meetings in the evening. In short, the working tools were used for practical as well as speculative purposes. We know this because Lodges have donated Mauls (and other working tools) as used by working stonemasons. Today such items are decorative rather than practical. No doubt this was because as speculative Masons came to dominate Lodges they did not wish to used large, heavy, mauls (and aprons etc) as used by stonemasons and so adopted the shape of the maul but made it smaller, lighter and more decorative.

The small hammers used by judges in some courts of law (although not in Scotland) are known as gavels and are ceremonially used to keep order. In Scottish Lodges the Maul serves the same purpose.

However, some Lodges have now adopted a small hammer, or gavel, instead of the Maul quite often because they are unaware of the stonemasons’ traditions or because someone has donated gavels to the Lodge and it would be rude not to use them! One wonders if the appearance of ‘travelling gavels’ has reinforced the idea that it is the gavel that is important?

Just to confuse the issue further when the Master passed the Maul to another person (usually at the annual visitation) we have heard them say – ‘I hereby present to you the Lodge gavel…’ but of course it is actually a Maul!

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