Lincoln Cathedral Stonemasons

Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Blog, Recent Work | 2 comments

Lincoln Cathedral is fortunate to have a team of skilled stonemasons. They are responsible for both replacing carvings damaged by the passage of time and creating new imagery which will be enjoyed by visitors in the future.

The image on the right is thought by some to be the thirteenth century master mason responsible for carving the Cathedral’s beautiful choir screen.

This is Sebastian Kirmaier carving a replacement stone. This piece had taken five months to create at this point – painstaking work!

As part of my residency I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the skill of some of the Cathedral’s other traditional craftspeople by creating a series of new illuminations.

People often ask me how I create a new design. Well, it usually begins with a sketch like the one on the right – perhaps more of a scribble than a sketch!

I knew I wanted to incorporate some images of the progress of a stone carvng from initial block to finished piece. I wondered whether the design should be in the rough shape of a Cathedral pinnacle – broadly triangular – but couldn’t quite get that to work. A hexagon seemed more visually pleasing and more appropriate, given the fact that the masons often start a new piece with a six-sided block of stone.

It’s been an absolute joy spending time with the masons. Here are the two Pauls – Paul Booth and Paul Ellis – hard at work. I am hoping to get them doing some manuscript gilding and perhaps I will get to take chisel to stone one day!


  1. Morning Toni,
    Have just discovered all the treasures on your website and know I will spend lots of time browsing and catching up on everything I have missed so far.
    Great to learn about how the Stonemasons evolved and to see photographs of the ‘boys’ at work as well as be able to look at the finished manuscript as much as I want.
    Take care,

    • Glad you have made your way here Evelyn! Sebastian, pictured above, is now Head Conservator at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The stonemasons are incredibly skilled – it always amazes me that they can create such perfect symmetrical curves out of stone.

      Another of the Lincoln Stonemasons, Bea, is planning an epic journey in conjunction with the Orkney Islands Council during 2017. You can read more here –
      All being well I will be creating a series of illuminations celebrating her journey. Watch this space!

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