My doctoral research attempts to shed some light on constructive processes in the Middle Ages using as main source masons’ marks. Thanks to the BAA Travel Grant, I was able to cover the expenses of one week of fieldwork in Zamora. This Spanish city, as a time capsule, preserves twenty-three churches, a cathedral and medieval city walls built between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The use of material evidences is especially relevant in light of the fact that written sources are devoid of any details about the labour-force or the organization of workshops for this period. Being awarded by the BAA enabled me to obtain information directly from buildings, an essential step to complete my thesis.
During my time in Zamora I visited the churches of Santa María de la Horta, Espíritu Santo, Santo Sepulcro, and San Juan de la Puerta Nueva. The type of work conducted varied depending on the building, as some of them have preserved more of their medieval structure –being walls of particular interest–, than others. In general, my activity on this group of churches consisted in taking measurements from the main parts of the constructions (height, length and width from the apses, presbyteries and naves). Hereinafter, I examine all the walls searching for masons’ marks using a strong light to spot them. Once I have selected the specific areas where masons’ marks are concentrated, I take photographs with the aim of recreating these zones using photogrammetry. As part of the process, I also measure some of the ashlar blocks and masons’ marks. On the contrary, if the church happens to lack a substantial amount of masons’ marks to contribute to my analysis, I photograph the few marks that are visible, ensuring their location.
For the church of Santa María de la Horta, where my research is at an advanced stage, I focused on analysing specific parts of the construction. After a previous work with masons’ marks, I was particularly interested in the method of construction of certain structural elements. For example, during this visit, I was able to verify that the triumphal arch and the arch of the south entrance were assembled following a similar process. As part of the buildings analysis, I also walked all along the city walls, determining which sections have marks. In addition, I visited and photographed the exteriors of the church of San Frontis and San Esteban. Finally, the grant allowed me to visit the Archivo Histórico Provincial de Zamora, in order to confirm the inexistency of medieval documents related to the erection of buildings. All this information is fundamental to understanding constructive processes in Zamora during the High Middle Ages.