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E.4.4 The Foundation-Stone

The traditional ceremony of laying a foundation-stone (or corner stone) is the only link left between operative and speculative Masonry. There are many references in the Bible to such a ceremony, and they are the basis of the symbolic Masonic ceremony still practised to day. The Entered Apprentice, at one point in the beginning of his career, figuratively represents that stone on which his Brethren hope that he will raise a superstructure perfect in its parts, and honourable to the builder.

There is also a custom in the building trade to leave some traces of the builders, and of their time, in the foundations of the major buildings. This tradition of “foundation deposits” dates back to the beginning of time, or at least from when the first buildings were erected. Some different “foundation deposits” are linked to ancient and cruel superstitions. In the Far East and South East, a foundation sacrifice, or stability rite, was common. Human sacrifices, replaced later on by animal sacrifices, are known to have existed in Borneo and in other countries such as Polynesia, Africa, and also in Europe including Great Britain. Completion sacrifices are also known in the same country. Sometime the architect was killed too so that he could not design any better building anywhere else. At Roslyn Chapel, in Scotland, a legend tells us that the Master Mason killed his apprentice who had erected a better pillar than his Master.