A stonemason's story of the building of Britain: part archaeological history, part deeply personal insight into an ancient craft.
In his thirty-year career, stonemason Andrew Ziminski has worked on many of our greatest monuments. From Neolithic monoliths to Roman baths and temples, from the tower of Salisbury Cathedral to the engine houses, mills and aqueducts of the Industrial Revolution and beyond, The Stonemason is his very personal history of how Britain was built - from the inside out. Stone by different stone, culture by different culture, Andrew Ziminski (with his faithful whippet in tow) takes us on an unforgettable journey by river, road and sea through our countryside showing how the making of Britain's buildings offers an unexpected and new version of our island story.
'My school history lessons were focused around flat pages of facts, events and royal personalities, but for me it was the material aspects of the past, the tangible remnants left behind that were thrilling, and that it was these buildings and places, and learning how they worked, that really brought the past alive.'
Andrew Ziminski is a stonemason living and working in what was ancient Wessex. He has three decades of hands-on experience with the tangible history of this country and has worked on some of the greatest and most interesting monuments in Britain; from using his skills to create a Stonehenge megalith, to the restoration of Roman ruins in Bath, to working on the tower of Salisbury Cathedral and the dome of St Paul's in London. He is happiest, however, when working on a humble medieval country church. Andrew is a SPAB William Morris Craft Fellow, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a consultant for the conservation of stonework and monuments to the Salisbury Diocesan advisory committee for the care of churches. He lives in Somerset. This is his first book.
The author's eagerness to experience the past physically sets him apart from drier academic historians . . . Ziminski's writing is vividly evocative and craftsmanlife . . . it's a fascinating book and a wise one
Like nurses, masons must know in detail about the lives of the buildings they care for. This intimate knowledge has given Andrew Ziminski unique insights into some of England's oldest and most beautiful structures. But this book is as much about people as mortar and stone. It's a conversation with the past, from which I learnt so much. My book of the year!
Francis Pryor, Time Team archaeologist and author of THE MAKING OF THE BRITISH LANDSCAPE
Enthralling . . . Along with riveting personal insights into this ancient craft, he immerses us in the past lives of the long-forgotten everyday craftspeople whose legacy is the buildings we so treasure today
Remarkable . . . Ziminski weaves together architecture, craft, landscape, archaeology and natural history, all the time keeping a sharp eye on modern everyday life around him