is a separate Masonic Order, membership of which is open to all Mark Master Masons. In the Mark Province of Bedfordshire five of the nine Mark Lodges have a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge moored to them, meeting on the same day as the Mark Master Masons’ Lodge.
The Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners, known as Royal Ark Mariners, has been under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons since 1871 and is governed by the Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council.
Prior to this the Royal Ark Mariners Degree was worked within Freemasons’ Craft Lodges, Mark Master Masons’ Lodges and elsewhere. Membership of the Royal Ark Mariners is the next step for many Mark Master Masons in their Masonic journey, which is why over half of all Mark Master Masons are also members of their moored Royal Ark Mariners Lodge.
Royal Ark Mariner Lodges are moored to Mark Lodges taking their number on the Order’s Roll. The actual origin of the Royal Ark Mariner Degree is not entirely certain, although several references to the Noah story and the Ark exist in early manuscripts, for example Anderson’s constitutions of 1723. The earliest authenticated record of a Royal Ark Mariner Degree being worked in England, in a form that we would recognise, is 1790.
Some statutes refer to a Grand Lodge being reconstituted in 1772 and several attempts appear to have been made at this time to establish a ‘Grand Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners’, however efforts failed and the Degree came under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
The ethos of the Degree contains events before, during and after the great deluge and is based on the story of Noah, his family and the Ark, which closely parallels the story of creation: a cycle of creation, desolation, and re-creation, in which the Ark plays a pivotal role.
The story of the building of an Ark and the great deluge is told in the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ as recorded on a stone tablet some 4000 years old, now in the British Museum.
Recent scientific discoveries have placed the flooding of the Black Sea to a period 8000 years ago when the wall of rock restraining the Mediterranean Sea from the Black (Sea) Lake crumbled eastwards and the waters flowed into what is now the Black Sea.
This event saw water levels rise relentlessly for many days and when aligned with the evidence of language and human migration in the same period, demonstrates that the Royal Ark Mariner Degree is centred on historical events.
The Order’s ceremony is one by which a Mark Master Mason is ‘Elevated’ or admitted to the Order; the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner. The ceremony of Elevation is a delightful one with many unique features and teaches that the virtuous and industrious prosper, and the story of the Flood is an allegory of cleansing and rebirth and symbolises wisdom, strength and beauty.
The prerequisite to being elevated to be a Royal Ark Mariner is to be a Mark Master Mason.
The breast jewel is of a dove bearing an olive branch suspended from a rainbow attached to a rainbow coloured ribbon.
Commanders and Past Commanders, who are the equivalent within Royal Ark Mariners of Masters and Past Masters in the Mark, exchange the rosettes on the aprons for silver triangles and wear a breast jewel of a triangle surmounted by the letter N.
The Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Degree is also the Provincial Grand Master of the Degree of Royal Ark Mariners.