First and foremost I am a Scot and proud of it. Second, I am a Freemason and proud of that also. However, I am also a husband and father and they are of course the most important aspects of my life. In addition to being an historian I am also a keen photographer. This is quite possibly due to the fact that my wife is a Professional Photographer and she has involved me (willingly or otherwise!) in some of her photographic projects. Therefore, just to show that I not a ‘one dimensional individual’ I shall post some of my own favourite images on the Gallery Page. To have a look at the first few I have uploaded click here or on the previous link.
I have always been interested in history and so I was delighted to be appointed, in 1994, as the Curator of one of Scotland’s oldest existing institutions. Every day is different and brings new challenges but that is one aspect of my work that makes the days pass quickly, are full of interest, and visitors. Increasingly, people are becoming aware that Freemasonry originated in Scotland, a fact supported by the existence of written records of which I am custodian on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
As Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library. I am therefore a paid, full time, employee of Grand Lodge. For those who are interested my employer’s full title is: The Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland, founded in 1736. The word ‘antient’ is the original Scottish spelling of the word ancient and is first mentioned in a document concerning ‘masonry’ in 1599. The Grand Lodge of Scotland, the home of Scottish Freemasonry, prefers to use the original Scottish spelling. It is probably also appropriate to mention that the Grand Lodge of Scotland is an independent sovereign body in its own right and has no connection with any other organisation in Scotland. That includes others also describe themselves as a Grand Lodge or something similar. A particular example is the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland with its headquarters in Glasgow which has no connection with the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland and did not come into being until more than 200 years after the earliest masons’ lodge Minutes. The duplication of ancient Masonic terminology, usage, by non-Masonic body such as
Those earliest records of a lodge are of lodge Aitcheson’s Haven and which commence on 9 January 1599. Unfortunately, the lodge no longer exists but they are now the property of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The oldest records of a Lodge which remains in existence are those of The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No.1. Their minutes commence on 31 July 1599 and are continuous to the present day. Whilst reading this paragraph you may have notice apparent discrepancies between spelling Lodge and lodge, Masons and masons. This is for a very specific and important reason. These earliest lodges were lodges of stonemasons and non-stonemasons could not join such lodges. Over time however non-stonemasons were ‘permitted’ to join such lodges, some as early as 1634, and over the course of the next 100 years a number of Lodges had ceased to be lodges of stonemasons in any way and their membership by then was comprised of men from all walks of life with few, if any, actual stonemasons as members. Exactly why stonemasons decided to allow non-stonemason to join their lodges is not clear. Perhaps lack of finance forced them to do so or it may have been that they were flattered to have important people as members. This is known as the Transition Theory - the transition from stone masonry to Freemasonry. To avoid confusion those writing about Freemasonry, especially anything containing Scottish material, are strongly encouraged to adopt the following convention:
- lodges = stonemasons’ lodges
- Lodges = Freemasons’ Lodges
- masons = stonemasons
- Masons = Freemasons
I have been asked many times why I started to write books about Scottish Freemasonry and the clue lies in the question itself. A number of people including from places as diverse as New Zealand, England and more than a few from the continent and north America chose to write about my country and the kind of Freemasonry practised here. As Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library I had little choice but to read such books as they dealt with a subject that I was, and am, intimately acquainted. Yet the puzzling thing was that none, let me repeat that none, of the authors who wrote/write about Scotland, Rosslyn Chapel, Freemasonry (of necessity, therefore, Scottish Freemasonry), the St. Clair Charters, the Schaw Statutes, the Knights Templar and a host of associated subjects had ever visited Freemasons’ Hall, or communicated with the Grand Lodge of Scotland, for information, the accuracy of what they intended to publish, or not even simply that organisation’s opinion. This is akin to writing the history of, say, Rolls Royce, but never driving one of their magnificent automobiles, contacting the company or examining the archive material held in it’s Museum.
What has been produced in absence of the examination of the original sources has been been shown to be quite incorrect (as discussed at great length in The Rosslyn Hoax?) and the bulk of the books, when I finally got round to reading them, continued to repeat the same errors over and over again.
I am often asked ‘what are you reading now?’ and as I read a huge amount of material that is always a difficult question to answer as if I did so I would probably bore that pants off you! Insead I have decided to insert in the News Page the books I have most recently finished reading. To go there click here or on the previous link.
More to follow