Recent, induced earthquakes in the north of the Netherlands have led to a large number of damage claims. Many claims can be considered to fall into the category of ‘light damage’ to the ubiquitous, unreinforced masonry structures in the region. To evaluate and predict the behaviour of cracks, characteristic of light masonry damage, caused by seismic or other actions, an experimental campaign, linked to the validation of computational models, has been pursued. To accurately capture the initiation of visible cracks, wider than 0.1 mm, Digital Image Correlation (DIC) was applied to monitor the entire surface of full-scale wall panels and smaller specimens. Moreover, an optimised speckle pattern and solving algorithm was developed to be able to monitor not only the initiation, but also the propagation of the cracks during subsequent (repeating) loading cycles. In this approach, the crack data is then used to characterise the intensity of damage with a single scalar; the parameter, denoted Ψ and comprising the number, width and length of the cracks, is used to evaluate the progression of light damage in experiments and finite element models. A description of the DIC technique applied and of the development and usage of the damage parameter for masonry is presented herein.