STONEMASONS will take part in ceremonial processions in Oxford as part of a festival of archaeology.

The Ashmolean Museum is to host a programme of free events this weekend exploring all things Anglo-Saxon and Viking as part of the National Festival of Archaeology.

And processions will take place tomorrow and on Sunday.

Frances Elston, an apprentice of the Stonemasons’ Guild, said: “Members of the public are invited to witness a historic event as the Guild make their first ceremonial procession in Oxford since 1736. Their processions will set off at 10.15am, on both Saturday and Sunday, from the magnificently carved portico of the Museum of the History of Science, the Ashmolean’s original home, passing Trinity College, Balliol College, St Mary Magdalen Church and The Martyr’s Memorial, before arriving at the Ashmolean to start the event.

“Our Guild also held the last known craft guild meeting in Oxford in 1736, when its then Master was chosen by the whole fraternity out of a group of four assistants on St. James’ Day - July 25.

“We are processing on the nearest weekend to this traditional festival. Our guild has recorded connections with the city dating back as early as 1525 and it is hoped that, with the support of the Ashmolean Museum, this weekend will mark the re-kindling of this craft connection.”

Visitors to the Beaumont Street venue tomorrow and Sunday will have the opportunity to talk to The Master Stonemason of The Guild of St Stephen and St George and meet several of his apprentices who will perform carving demonstrations on the museum forecourt.

One item will be a stone board for a 10th century gaming workshop.

The guild has its main lodge in Norwich and has staged a similar festival at the Castle Museum in the city.

Ms Elston added: “The processions are staged four times a year and we also stage mystery plays.

“The processions are a good way of drawing attention to the work we do and the guild’s traditions.

“We do a lot of work in the Cotswolds, so some of our members know Oxford very well.

“Our members are really looking looking forward to the visit.”

“The Ashmolean has a fantastic set of ancient sculptures and carvings in its cast collection.”

For those interested in learning more about the little-known history of the stonemasons’ guild and its part in world events during the Anglo-Saxon period, the Guild Master Dr Stephen L’Normand will give free lunchtime talks on both days in the Ashmolean, alongside Dr Ryan Lavelle and Dr Janina Ramirez.

Dr L’Normand added he was a former master stonemason at Wheatley Park School.