Solomon Preceptory & Priory #23

Degree Structure - the York Rite Degrees

York Rite

Although terms such as "progress", "advance", & "higher degrees" are quite often used when referring to other Masonic degrees it should be noted that there is no rank higher than that of a Master Mason. In most cases these terms refer to your greater understanding of the Masonic story, or history if you prefer.

The term "York Rite" isn't very much in use in Scotland, but it is nevertheless the group or collective name for the degrees listed below.

The York Rite is not governed, controlled or organized by a central authority, it is merely a term used to incorporate the following bodies:

  1.  Royal Arch Chapter 
  2.  Cryptic Council 
  3.  Royal Ark Mariners 
  4.  Knights Templar 
  5.  The Grand Imperial Council of Scotland 

And incidentally it has no connection historically or otherwise with York, England.

The information on this page relates specifically to the manner & names of York Rite degrees as worked in Scotland. For further information relating to the American York Rite system CLICK HERE.

The starting point of Freemasonry is the Blue Lodge where the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow of the Craft & Master Mason are conferred upon the candidate.

At this point you are eligible to join a Royal Arch Chapter. The next step is the degree of a Mark Master, in Scotland this degree can be conferred either by the Blue Lodge or the Royal Arch.
If you received your Mark in the Blue Lodge you will be required to become an affiliate member in the RAC.

The next step is the degree of Excellent Master (the first RAC degree) followed by the Royal Arch Degree. The Chapter degrees form the gateway to the rest of the York Rite degrees, only after completing the RAC degrees are you eligible to join the Cryptic Council, Royal Ark Mariners & Knight's Templar.

There is no set order by which you have to join any of these bodies (other than stated above), however, it should be noted that the Royal Arch Chapter, Cryptic Council, Royal Ark Mariners & The Grand Imperial Council of Scotland come under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland (although the latter is not listed there), whilst the KT's are under the Great Priory of Scotland.
These bodies are independent of, and recognised by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

As with all Masonic degrees (Orders) there is an order, or minimum requirement that you must have attained before you can join (progress).

Square and Compass The Blue Lodge
  1. Entered Apprentice
  2. Fellow Craft
  3. Master Mason
  4. Mark Master
Square and Compass
In Scotland the Mark Master Degree can be conferred by either Blue Lodge or a Royal Arch Chapter.
If you have already attained the rank of Mark Master prior to joining a Royal Arch Chapter you will be required to affiliate as a Mark Master to the Chapter.

You do not have to wait for an inivitation to join the Chapter, you are at liberty to ask.
Chances are though, that you will be approached by your peers when they deem you ready.

Royal Arch Royal Arch Chapter
  1. Mark Master
    (or affiliation to the Mark)
  2. Excellent Master
  3. Royal Arch Degree
Royal Arch

The Royal Arch is the "gateway" to the York Rite.

You must have all of the six degrees above conferred upon you before you can progress.

Once you have done this there is no set order by which to join any of the following:

Gateway to the York Rite
Cryptic Council Cryptic Council
Royal Ark Mariner Royal Ark Mariners
Royal Ark MarinersRoyal Ark Mariners Degree
Red Cross Council
  1. Knight of the Sword
  2. Knight of the East
  3. Knight of the East & West
Royal Ark Mariner
Knight Templar Knight Templar
Knight of the Temple
  1. Pilgrim
  2. Esquire
  3. Knight
Knight of Malta
  1. The Mediterranean Pass or
    Knight of St. Paul
  2. Knight of St John of Jerusalem
Knight Templar

The Orders noted above are generally open to join, no one will take offence if you make enquiries about joining.

The Grand Imperial Council of Scotland and the Royal Order of Scotland are by invitation only, you cannot ask to join.


The Grand Imperial Council of Scotland

...or to use its full name - The Grand Imperial Council of Scotland of The Imperial, Religious and Military Order of Rome and the Red Cross of Constantine, Holy Sepulchure and St. John the Evangelist.

Out of all the Masonic Orders I have heard of and looked for on the net, this is the first one that has me stumped. The small bit of information I could find (below) was gleaned from the Grand Lodge of Scotland Website.
I can't even find an image that I'm confident is correct.

The Order consists of 40 Conclaves of the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine, 29 in Scotland and 11 overseas - each with an appendant Sanctuary of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and a Commandery of the Order of St. John the Evangelist.

Membership of the Order under the Scottish Jurisdiction is by Invitation only.


Royal Order of Scotland

The Royal Order of Scotland

Membership in the Royal Order of Scotland is by invitation only, and requires belief in Trinitarian Christianity. Most of the Provincial Grand Lodges require that a candidate have been a Master Mason for at least five years, and to have shown outstanding service (e.g., held offices) to Freemasonry and/or the Church. Most Lodges require as a prerequisite membership in the York or Scottish Rite as well as in at least one other Christian order

From the above statement I would deduce that the R.O.o.S. is not part of the York Rite.


I'm not saying that these are all the York Rite Degrees, but these are certainly the most common, & the only ones I can confirm at this time.
If I learn more I will add them.
Freemasonry is after all a progressive science...