Ancient Use of The Cable-Tow

The Waller Mason Lodge # 808 Online Newsletter – September 2011 edition

What do we mean, when in our lodges we talk of “the length of their cable tow”?

Many centuries ago any yarn, fiber or string was called “tau”.

Sometimes people would use several pieces of “tau” and weave or twist them into a rope.

This process was then known as cabling. The result was a “cabled-tau”.

The builders of the great cathedrals used “cabled-tau” for walls of cathedrals where an early form of scaffolding was built.

In those days there were, of course, no occupational health standards, and climbing flimsy scaffolding with heavy tools or mortar would not be safe. Lifting tools with a “cabled-tau” would be much safer.

The length of a worker’s “cable-tau” determined how high he could climb before hauling up his tools. The length of one’s “cabled-tau” limited the height to which a worker could safely climb.

An inexperienced workman would have a very short “cabled-tau” until he learned his trade well and could climb higher.

A builder, then, could not work beyond the length of his “cabled-tau” and the length of his “ cabled-tau ” might serve as a mark of a working man’s ability.