Historic stonemasons signatures found during Southsea sea defence work

ANOTHER historic discovery has been made during work on new sea defences in Portsmouth.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 9:40 pm
Early stonemason signatures revealed on seawalls in Southsea. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

The signatures of 17th century stonemasons have been found on seawalls by Long Curtain Moat while work to break out and remove modern concrete as part of the Southsea Sea Defence scheme progressed.

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Historic 17th century defences unearthed in Southsea

Known as banker marks, the signatures were traditionally made by masons on the stones they were preparing to ensure they were paid the correct amount for their work.

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Historic stonemasons signatures found during Southsea sea defence work. Picture Portsmouth City Council

Project director Guy Mason said: 'We were unaware that the banker marks existed beneath the concrete as there is no mention of them in any of the documentation about the monument.

'They have now been photographed and recorded, and will be included in a report on the archaeological monitoring and recording being undertaken as part of the Southsea Coastal Scheme.'

Portsmouth City Council, Wessex Archaeology and Historic England archaeologists maintain regular contact to agree appropriate recording strategies as remains are uncovered.

Historic stonemasons signatures found during Southsea sea defence work. Picture Portsmouth City Council

Alex Godden, the principal consultant for Wessex Archaeology, added: 'This discovery has the potential to tell us whether local masons and guilds were used, or if experts such as specific military masons were brought in.

'It will help to identify which quarries or stonemason workshops were used for the stone working.

'We may well further identify the same stonemasons' work on buildings in or around Portsmouth, based on their individual marks.'

The Southsea Coastal Scheme is set to cost upwards of £100m and will stretch for 4.5km from Old Portsmouth to Eastney to protect homes and businesses from rising sea levels.

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