Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Santiago de Compostela

The Masons' Marks of the Romanesque Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in context (c. 1075-1090)/Los inicios de la Catedral Románica de Santiago de Compostela en su contexto (ca. 1075-1090) with Dr Jose Luis Senra, Madrid University and Dr Therese Martin, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, CCHS. Madrid.

Project funded by the Galician regional government 2009-13 (Plan Nacional I+D+i del Ministerio de Fomento (Actual Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad)).

The masons' marks in the east end of the cathedral have the potential to inform the debate about the construction of the building, in particular they can provide information about the significance of differences noted in the architecture. The marks needed to be located and recorded precisely to site and entered into a database in order for this to be possible, and all accessible stone surfaces had to be inspected. Fieldwork was carried out between 2011-13, once delays caused by security issues at the cathedral had been resolved, and the assistance of the staff at the cathedral is gratefully acknowledged.

Upper level of the Choir (below left) and view across the transept, with the Botafumero, the massive incense burner, in action (below right)

The database has been created and the analysis of the masons' marks of the east end of the building has been carried out. The first publication is now out, Jennifer S. Alexander and Therese Martin:

“Sistemas constructivos en las fases iniciales de la Catedral de Santiago: una nueva mirada al edificio románico a través de las marcas de cantería,” in En el principio: Génesis de la Catedral Románica de Santiago de Compostela. Contexto, construcción y programa iconográfico, ed. J.L. Senra, Santiago de Compostela, 2014, pp. 142-163. Further publication in English will follow.

In November 2020 there was a lot of press interest in the discovery of a carving of a stonemason, hidden high up in the building, that the team made during the work that we carried out on the building. The first article is here, and it led to inclusion in BBC's Have I Got News For You, (Nov 6th/Dec 8th) :

Observer article

'A Selfie Set in Stone: Hidden Portrait by Mischievous Mason Found 900 years on',

An interview with 'Follow the Camino', a company that provides practical help for people taking the Camino is here:


Choir upperInterior B