The Grand Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland was founded in 1736. This was some years after the formation of the Grand Lodges of England and Ireland . The reason for this may have been the fact that the Grand Lodge of Scotland had approximately 100 Lodges to deal with whereas the others had comparatively few. As can be imagined, trying to obtain the agreement of 100 independent Lodges all jealously guarding their traditions was no easy task. Only 33 of these Lodges were represented at the foundation meeting which implies that 67% did not see the point of having a Grand Lodge when some of those Lodges had already been in recorded existence for almost 140 years!  Of the 33 Lodges a substantial minority did not consider the formation of a "Headquarters" worthy of further support and did not continue to participate in Grand Lodge affairs preferring to continue as local, independent Lodges. Sadly many of those 100 original Lodges have disappeared and very little is known of them. Indeed many are only known by their village or town name. It can be seen, therefore, that The Grand Lodge of Scotland began as a 'bottom - up' organisation - that is with many Lodges pre-existing Grand Lodge. Other Grand Lodges were formed at a time when there were relatively very few Lodges and began from a 'top - down' position.

This historical difference in the early organisation of Grand Lodge gives Scottish Freemasonry a distinct and unique character. This has given rise to many features in Scottish Freemasonry, which are not to be found elsewhere. The position of the new Grand Lodge was difficult - how could it assert its authority? The fact is that it could not do so to the same extent as other Grand Lodges simply was because so many Lodges had pre-existed that body. The Lodges were permitted to retain their own procedures, regalia, and ritual. Having granted that degree of independence to those old Lodges it was impossible to deny Lodges founded after 1736 that same level of independence. Examples of the independence of such Lodges are many but only a few can be mentioned here. Lodges in Scotland, and those overseas, which are Chartered by Grand Lodge, are sovereign bodies in their own right and this affords them a considerable degree of control of their own affairs.

This independence manifests itself in several ways:

 Firstly, Scottish Lodges have the right to choose the colours of the Lodge regalia. Unlike other Constitutions, Scottish Lodge meetings are very colourful especially if there are visitors from other Lodges.

Secondly there is no such thing as a 'Standard' ritual for Scottish Lodges. Each Lodge has had the right to devise its own, within reason, and many do so - with numerous interesting additions. Of course the ritual must contain the principal points of each degree but the scope for elaboration is considerable and is one of the main topics of discussion by visitors from one Lodge to another.

Thirdly, the connection between the craft of stone masonry and modern Freemasonry can only be established in Scotland. This direct connection can be traced from existing written records. The page dealing with the 400th anniversary of the oldest Masonic records in the world will be of some interest in this respect. The use of the Maul by the Master and Wardens demonstrate the direct connection with stone masons in Lodges, in Scotland at least. Most Constitutions use a gavel, or small hammer.


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