Medieval Masons’ Tools II: Compass and Square

Medieval Masons’ Tools II: Compass and Square

By Lonnie R. Shelby

Technology and Culture, Vol.6:2 (1965)

Introduction: This second paper in a series of studies on medieval masons’ tools is concerned with the compass and square. That these tools were of particular significance in the work of medieval masons is indicated by their frequent use as symbols of the craft, as in the seal of the stonecutters of Strasbourg, the masons’ windows at Chartres, and the sepulchral monuments of several master masons. The choice of the compass and square by the medieval masons themselves suggests that a study of the form and use of these tools might produce some valuable insights into the work techniques of these men. Indeed, the underlying assumption of this paper is that, until the history of their tools is adequately described, the achievements of medieval masons cannot be properly evaluated from a technological point of view.

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