Detail of bracing on the end truss of number 64 as viewed from inside the roof space of number 62 King St. The curved bracing, corner post and studding were originally the external southern facing wall of this quite substantial 2 bay box Timber framed building.
On a recent visit to Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire to investigate possible apotropaic marks I came across these. The criss-cross hatching found on the stairwell could of course be random scratchings of a bored child but there are examples of apotropaic meshes or webs possibly designed to ensnare evil spirits. There was other graffiti associated with it.
The saltire crosses with joined head were located at the base of the door jambs on the entrance to the Long Gallery. Whist they could be carpenter’s marks to show who needed to be paid for the job (there are literally hundreds of various masons’ marks inside and out for this purpose) they could possibly be dual purpose as the saltire symbol itself was often used to act as a barrier to evil across doorways. This is more often found in the form of a saltire contained in two vertical lines representing the door jambs (IXI).
These conjoined Vs were found on both door jambs and the lintel of the doorway into the master bed chamber, so an obvious placement for apotropaic marks. There are some similar mason’s marks elsewhere in Hardwick Hall but these lack the Clerk of Works semi circle evident on virtually all the other masons’ marks. Perhaps a subtle dual purpose sym ol which could be apotropaic in intent but perhaps explainable to any suspicious enquiries as simple mason’s markings.
Categories: Buildings project