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Part-hands-on archaeological history of Britain, part-deeply personal insight into this ancient craft by a stonemason who has worked on Britain’s greatest monuments, from Salisbury Cathedral to St Paul’s.

Following a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, stonemason Andrew Ziminski has worked on many of Britain’s greatest monuments, from the Roman ruins of Bath to Salisbury Cathedral’s spire to St Paul’s, and his three decades of work give a unique perspective on the warp and weft of English history, nature and geology.

From the first stone megaliths put up by Neolithic farmers, through the Roman baths and temples, the Anglo-Saxon and Norman churches, to the engine houses, mills and aqueducts of the Industrial revolution, in The Stonemason Andrew journeys around by way of river, road and sea to explore the routes that ideas, migrants and building materials took to create some of Britain’s most iconic historic buildings and ancient monuments.

(P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited


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
The author's eagerness to experience the past physically sets him apart from drier academic historians . . . Ziminski's writing is vividly evocative and craftsmanlike . . . it's a fascinating book and a wise one
Daily Mail
There are few reading pleasures that compare with a passionate expert describing their work, and Ziminski stands proudly in this field . . . Remarkable . . . Ziminski weaves together architecture, craft, landscape, archaeology and natural history, all the time keeping a sharp eye on modern everyday life around him
Literary Review
A wonderful behind-the-scenes history, where time works on a different scale and stone is a living, breathing entity . . . by a master craftsman whose expertise connects him to the generations that came before him
BBC Countryfile Magazine
Andrew Ziminski is the man who rebuilt the West Country. For 30 years, this skilled stonemason has renovated some of Britain's greatest buildings . . . The author skilfully explains the history of these stones and - this is what makes his book so entertaining - relates them to jobs he has done . . . Ziminski is one of those lucky souls with rural X-ray spectacles. He looks at the countryside and sees a series of historical slides going back over several millennia . . . Ziminski has a wonderful way of describing the look and feel of stone . . . What a magician!
The Spectator
In attempting to reconnect us to this continuous narrative of English history and architecture, Ziminski is undertaking something more profound than the charm of this delightful book first suggests. Delicate as the threads that tie us to the past can seem, thanks to work like Ziminski's, both as mason and as author, we can hope they will remain unbroken
Daily Telegraph
Thoughtful, observant and well-informed, as much at ease with words and emotions as with the stone he works with
History Today
The author is a beguiling companion to the very bones of the Wessex landscape . . . I hope he has plenty left from his notebooks for another volume
Sunday Telegraph
Most of us won't be jetting off to foreign adventures in the next few weeks, so there has probably never been a better time to discover or rediscover this magical land
The Times
[A] surrogate travel book, part memoir, part history, in which Andrew Ziminski describes his career as an itinerant craftsman. Refreshingly, he too recognizes how Eastern skills and styles arrived in Europe
Times Literary Supplement
This is a compelling book: part travel journal - paddling along misty streams in the South-West by canoe - part builder's manual - you learn about formwork and lateral thrust - and part hymn to the art of sustaining stone structures over centuries . . . it is rooted in the making of England and is a magical read
Evening Standard
In this delightful book about the places he's worked (from Wells Cathedral to Bath's Roman ruins) [Ziminski] reconnects us to our past
Daily Telegraph
Lyrical as much as it is factual and quickly grips the reader
The Langport Leveller