Ancient Stirling Lodge

There is a fascinating essay about the Ancient Stirling Lodge in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum VI (1893) (1). W.J. Hughan describes the lodge from which one of the founders of the Kirkwall lodge came.

It appears that this Stirling lodge is likely the one mentioned on a St. Clair charter of 1628. Now that is ancient! St. Clair, of the St. Clair line that in 1736 would sign the charter for the Kirkwall lodge?

The Stirling lodge has “two brasses” which are supposedly from the 17th century. That means, well before ‘modern Freemasonry’. Here is one of these “brasses”.

The dating is optimistic. Hughan quotes the minutes with 1745 references to the Royal Arch and references to “Killwinning” in its name (just as the Kirkwall lodge). Jan Snoek would say that that refers to a “Heredom” type lodge (not Antient, not Modern) (2) with enforces the suggestion the Kirkwall lodge not just happened to have a founding member who was a member in Stirling before, but that the lodge was (partially) an initiative of the Stirling lodge.

Cooper mentions that the Kirkwall lodge (founded by a member of the Stirling lodge) seems to have had no third degree until at least 1742, let alone other degrees. This suggests that the Stirling lodge did neither. It seems that in Stirling the degrees mentioned on the brass were introduced only around 1742-5 and that the brass can be no younger.

Then again, Cooper is also of the opinion that there was no third degree in Scotland before 1754, while Stirling had a Royal Arch in 1745. It seems that Cooper sees “stonemasons” lodges (with two degrees) as the same as the “Killwinning” (“Heredom”) lodges, but I think Snoek would disagree. I think, just as with the Kirkwall Scroll, this “Stirling Ancient Lodge” “brass” has to be dated based on the degrees that are depicted. By all means, it is very unlikely that the 1736 Kirkwall lodge got the degrees that are probably on the Kirkwall Scroll from Stirling from the start, perhaps later.

In any case, since the “Red Cross” seems to be from the 1760’ies, the “brass” could well be about the same age as the Kirkwall Scroll.

Is the rainbow on the “brass” with the capstone a reference to the Mark degree or more generally Royal Arch? The oldest mention of Mark that I found so far is 1769 in England, so even younger than a dating based on the “Red Cross”.

Then we have “Night Templer“, “Knights of Malta” and “Sepulchre”. Templar degrees are known only from 1779, so again later.

The Stirling lodge is ancient, but until there is another way of dating the “brass” information about this lodge can’t help us dating the Kirkwall Scroll.

(1) The Ancient Stirling Lodge by W.J. Hughan, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum VI (1893), from page 108. Available online (accessed 15 February 2024)
(2) Harodim Material and Higher Degrees in Formen und Inhalte freimaurischer Rituale (2017) p305

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