No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Most scholars believe Masonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals of the middle ages.
They had simple initiation ceremonies and, as there were no City and Guilds certificates, dues cards or trade union membership cards, they adopted secret signs and words to demonstrate that they were trained masons and the degree of their training.
In 1717, Masonry Lodges in London formed the Grand Lodge Of England, the first in the world. Ireland followed in 1725 and Scotland in 1736. All the regular Grand Lodges in the world trace themselves back to one or more of the Grand Lodges in the British Isles.