THE MASONS IN SCOTLAND
The Free and Accepted Masons have a long history and much of it relates to Scotland. The actual origins of the brotherhood are lost in a tangled of myth and history, which we shall in no way attempt to resolve. There are innumerable books on the subject of Freemasonry and its background, some of which are listed at the end of this article.
It is generally accepted that the earliest written records which make note of the Masons is a poem called The Regius Manuscript, a 64 page poem which dates somewhere between the end of the 14th century and the middle of the 15th century. One would be led to believe that the Freemasons were already in existence at that time.
Other documents, such as the Matthew Cooke Manuscript dated around 1450, and the Statutes of Ratisbon (25 April 1459) drawn up in Ratisbon (now Regensberg). These were approved by Emeroro Maximillian in 1498 and indicate three levels (Meister or master; Gesellen or journeyman; and Deiner or servant - the general word for an apprentice in German is Lehrling).
There have been a number of changes in Freemasonry as it has spread around the world. The 1723 Constitution of the Freemasons written for the Premiere Grand Lodge of England found its way into the hands of Benjamin Franklin who reprinted it in 1724 in Philadelphia making it the oldest Masonic book printed in America.
There is evidence that Masonic lodges were operating in Scotland as early as the late 16th Century. The Lodge of Kilwinnig has records going back that far and it is mentioned in the Second Shaw Statutes of 1599. William Shaw (of the Shaw Statutes) held the title of Master of Works for life. The title was bestowed on him by James the VI and this made him responsible for all construction, repair and maintenance of all the crown properties. SO he appears to have some connection with operative masons.
The Lodge of Kilwinnig is under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and is numbered "0" on its roles. It is called the Mother Kilwinning and claims a history back to the 12th Century. The Mother Lodge Museum has a collection of masonic items, but one needs to make an appointment to visit it. One can also tour the Lodge building itself. Further information can be found at
The reader is referred to the web site for more information.
Many Scots have been Masons, and one of the most famous is doubtless Robert Burns who was initiated in St. David's Lodge, Tarbolton, on July 4, 1781. Among his works are several with deal with Masonic subjects, including The Master's Apron, Masonic Song: Ye Sons of Old Killie, Presentation of the Pillars and A Masonic Song. These and others can be found on a web site which deals with Burns' activities as a mason. I f the link doesn't work copy this address into your browser.
In addition, to these places and people, there are a number of interesting places to visit, not the least of which is the Masonic museum which is located at the Freemasons' Hall, 96 George Street,
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH2 3DH They can be reached by phone or e-mail.
Information about the museum and library can be found at their website.
The pictures found throughout the article were taken at the museum in Edinburgh.
This article is not meant to be all that can be said about Scottish Freemasonry. In fact we hope that some of the Freemasons in Scotland might contribute some further articles on the topic