As usual in Freemasonry the origins of a Degree, and particular the Royal Ark Mariner Degree, are shrouded in mystery, due to the oral traditions of the Order, and no doubt to the need to keep as much as possible secret. It is considered by some that the story of the Flood, with its spiritual and moral implications would make it almost a certainty that the Medieval Guilds would employ the story in the mystery plays. Through time and usage it would be absorbed into the Masonic ambit as a vehicle for teaching and inculcating the moral attitudes, which were so necessary (and are still) to enable a structured society to operate and hold together. Indeed it is believed that the story of Noah was central working in many Craft Lodges prior to Hiram and the Temple.
The place at which the earliest recorded workings are available is at Portsmouth in about 1780, though no doubt the Degree had been formulated and practised at a much earlier date. There are references to the Degree having been worked around 1790 in places so scattered as Eastwood in Yorkshire, Ipswich, Bath and London. It is apparent that the Degree was, in the main, one, which was, fostered the Ancients as distinct from the Moderns.
At the time of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, we all know that those Degrees other than Craft and Royal Arch were excluded. They of course did not disappear but worked under various headings. The Royal Ark Mariner had a very chequered history until 1871 when it came under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, where it is governed by the Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council.
The requisite to join the Royal Ark Mariner Degree is to be a Mark Mason, each Lodge is moored to Mark Lodge and users the same number, although not necessarily the same name. They are administered by the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons and Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons with the same heads, however it must be emphasised that it is a complete different Degree, with it own Ritual and Regalia.
The ritual of the degree is as the name suggest based on the story of Noah and the great flood, when Noah at the request of God built an Ark for the preservation of his family and all the known living creatures.
The symbol of the Degree is the triangle and the points represent Wisdom, Strength and, Beauty whilst the five Cardinal Virtues characteristic of Masonry, Watchfulness, Discretion, Brotherly Love, Truth and Charity are illustrated.
In Wiltshire there are 8 Lodges including one that meets in the morning, they are spread through out the Province. More information may be obtained from the Provincial Grand Secretary.
Your experience in the Craft will have given you some knowledge of the building of King Solomon's Temple, but have you considered how it was built and what problems may have been encountered during construction? Who, for instance, carried out the Quality Assurance? And how? These are some Of the questions addressed in the Ceremony of Advancement