Masons at Work

Katja Schröck
Technische Universität Dresedn,
A Comparative Look at Stone Setting Techniques
Stone setting was a basic but indispensible element of medieval church building. Referring to the concrete examples of Naumburg and Meißen, I will analyze various technologies of stone setting used by architects and masons in order to better understand medieval construction processes.

The inner walls of the cathedral choir of Meißen clearly demonstrate that not only were there interruptions in the construction process but also a change of technology. Whereas there are no traces of kerb-lifter grip holes in either the wall of the choir polygon or the choir's northern wall, a change in setting technique is obvious in the south wall of the rectangular bay. Below sculptures of the St. Donatus and John the Evangelist, one can recognize the use of a kerb lifter for the stones of the diagonally set ashlar. Further, a kerb lifter was used in the external wall of the choir polygon in the stone layers above the sills of the choir windows. This evidence suggests that the northern choir wall and the polygon were built in a single, homogeneous construction phase, whereas the southern part of the choir was begun later.

If the current scholarly hypothesis is true, and the Naumburg workshop went on to work in Meißen, then evidence of a similar setting method should be visible in that building. In fact, analysis of the west choir of Naumburg shows that a kerb lifter was only used sporadically. I will address the large differences in construction methods and look at the resemblance of the Meißen process to evidence from other similarly constructed churches, such as Altenberg (near Cologne).