The oldest document which refers to ancient Freemasonry is the Regius Poem, or Halliwell Manuscript. James O. Halliwell discovered an ancient manuscript in the archives of the British Museum in 1838. Scientists have concluded from the type of parchment, language, and lettering that this document was written in approximately 1390 A.D. The poem consists of 794 lines of Old English verse and covers several subjects, mostly directly applicable to Freemasonry. While this manuscript was probably written in the 14th century, it refers to a period of Masonic history in England in the late 10th century. It relates the Legend of York and is the basis for the prominence the city of York has occupied in Masonic lore since the first millenium. Regulations for the government of the craft are included in the poem, as are fifteen articles and fifteen points dealing with ethical, moral and spiritual responsibilities of the ancient craftsmen. These are as applicable to us today as they were 1000 years ago.Excerpted from: A History and Handbook, The York Rite of Freemasonry, by Frederick G. Speidel
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