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How they were Built

History of Cathedrals
How they were Built
Gothic Cathedrals
Romanesque Cathedrals
Gargoyles and Grotesques

Construction of Cathedrals

As soon as the first stone arrived, the master mason would mark out the ground plan for the cathedral. For this he used wooden ground stakes, rope, and a measuring pole. If the ground under where the cathedral was going to be built was rock, the master mason was lucky. If it was marshy, then logs had to be laid in the mud to make a firmer foundation. When the master mason was satisfied with the foundation the work on the cathedral was ready to begin.

Freemasons were in charge of making the cement, square blocks required for the building walls. The stones they used were made of either limestone or sandstone. The freemasons, who were considered to be the most important workers on site, laid the first base blocks and as well, the most difficult sections of the wall. Rough masons did most of the brick laying of the walls. The wall construction always had an inner wall and a outer wall and only these walls were shaped from blocks. The space in between the two walls was filled with mortar and local rocks and stones.

The wrights were the carpenters and very important craftsmen in the middle ages, even thought the wrights did not do much work on the cathedral sites. Different sorts of wrights built different things from houses to furniture or even seige-engines. Masons building cathedrals depended on the wrights to build scaffolds and to do the timberwork on the roofs and furnishings. The main job of the wrights was to do the timberwork on the roof and as well build furnishings on the inside, like choir stalls and doors. Before the building process the master wright always made a store of beams. He watched over then while they aged to readiness or dried out, and sometimes this would take years. The beams, which were made from huge oak trees, and were often one foot on diameter, were used on the roof of the cathedral. When the brick walls were finished, it was then time for the wrights to place the roof beams on the cathedral. When the beams were in position, they were held together with wooden pegs and iron straps made by the blacksmiths.