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Baal's Bridge Square

Old Baal's Bridge c. 1830

Today in Masonic History we discuss Baal's Bridge Square.

Baal's Bridge square is an artifact that was found in the foundation of Baal's bridge which spans the Shannon River in Limerick, Ireland.

Like the Regius Poem, the Baal's Bridge Square is something of an anomaly when it comes to the history of Freemasonry. The Square was found in 1830 when Baal Bridge which spanned the Shannon River was bring removed to make way for the new Baal Bridge. It was dug out of the eastern corner of the foundation of the northern land pier of the bridge. It is presumed that the square was placed in the foundation by an operative mason.

The interesting question that the Baal's Bridge Square raises is whether the operative masons of the time were using esoteric teachings in their ritual. Taking the square literally at face value, it's inscription reads "I will strive to live with love & care upon the level and by the square", it does imply that operative masons may have been using esoteric lessons in their work. It could also imply that the square was the beginning of speculative masonry with it's more esoteric and symbolic view of masonic tools.

Along with the above mention inscription on the square, there is also a year of 1507. Because of the corroded state of the square the year 1507 has been changed over the years. This is further confused by the fact that no one knows when the original Baal's Bridge was built. At one point in time, the date was believed to be 1317, interestingly that would put the square in the same century of when the Regius Poem is believed to have been written (the Regius Poem is believed to have been written down in 1390). Later the date on the square became 1517 and eventually the 1507 which a rubbing of the square seems to definitively indicate. To further backup the idea that the square is more than 500 years old, there are written accounts in town records of Baal's Bridge being in place in 1558.

The Baal's Bridge Square is currently being preserved by Antient Union Lodge No. 13 in Limerick, Ireland. Antient Union Lodge No. 13 is a "time immemorial" lodge meaning that it was in existence prior to the existence of a Grand Lodge.