Medieval Masons’ Tools: The Level and the Plumb Rule

Medieval Masons’ Tools: The Level and the Plumb Rule

By Lonnie R. Shelby

Technology and Culture, Vol.2:2 (1961)

Introduction: In contrast to the vast number of studies dealing with medieval art and architecture, the technology of medieval construction has received relatively little attention. Much work remains to be done in this field, particularly in studying the development of equipment and tools used in medieval construction work. Unfortunately, no medieval Virtruvius or Heron of Alexandria supplied detailed descriptions of equipment, tools, or methods of construction. In view of this absence of authoritative written sources, it is unfortunate that little use has been made of manuscript miniatures. Yet miniatures can be a valuable source for the history of medieval construction work, and is demonstrated by the study of medieval masons’ tools. We may take as examples the form and use of the mason’s level and plumb rule.

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