Architectural style of Medieval Europe
Top 10 Romanesque architecture related articles
- 1 Definition
- 2 Scope
- 3 History
- 4 Characteristics
- 5 Ecclesiastical architecture
- 5.1 Plan
- 5.2 Section
- 5.3 Church and cathedral east ends
- 5.4 Church and cathedral façades and external decoration
- 5.5 Church towers
- 5.6 Portals
- 5.7 Interiors
- 5.8 Other structures
- 5.9 Decoration
- 5.10 Transitional style and the continued use of Romanesque forms
- 6 Romanesque castles, houses and other buildings
- 7 Romanesque Revival
- 8 Notes
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held. In the 12th century it developed into the Gothic style, marked by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
Combining features of ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings and other local traditions, Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, thick walls, round arches, sturdy pillars, barrel vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms, frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan; the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings that were to follow. The style can be identified right across Europe, despite regional characteristics and different materials.
Many castles were built during this period, but they are greatly outnumbered by churches. The most significant are the great abbey churches, many of which are still standing, more or less complete and frequently in use. The enormous quantity of churches built in the Romanesque period was succeeded by the still busier period of Gothic architecture, which partly or entirely rebuilt most Romanesque churches in prosperous areas like England and Portugal. The largest groups of Romanesque survivors are in areas that were less prosperous in subsequent periods, including parts of southern France, rural Spain and rural Italy. Survivals of unfortified Romanesque secular houses and palaces, and the domestic quarters of monasteries are far rarer, but these used and adapted the features found in church buildings, on a domestic scale.
Romanesque architecture Intro articles: 6
Romanesque architecture YouTube videos
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "Romanesque" means "descended from Roman" and was first used in English to designate what are now called Romance languages (first cited 1715). The French term "romane" was first used in the architectural sense by archaeologist Charles de Gerville in a letter of 18 December 1818 to Auguste Le Prévost to describe what Gerville sees as a debased Roman architecture.[Notes 2] In 1824 Gerville's friend Arcisse de Caumont adopted the label "roman" to describe the "degraded" European architecture from the 5th to the 13th centuries, in his Essai sur l'architecture religieuse du moyen-âge, particulièrement en Normandie, at a time when the actual dates of many of the buildings so described had not been ascertained:
The name Roman (esque) we give to this architecture, which should be universal as it is the same everywhere with slight local differences, also has the merit of indicating its origin and is not new since it is used already to describe the language of the same period. Romance language is degenerated Latin language. Romanesque architecture is debased Roman architecture.[Notes 3]
The first use in a published work is in William Gunn's An Inquiry into the Origin and Influence of Gothic Architecture (London 1819). The word was used by Gunn to describe the style that was identifiably Medieval and prefigured the Gothic, yet maintained the rounded Roman arch and thus appeared to be a continuation of the Roman tradition of building.
The term is now used for the more restricted period from the late 10th to 12th centuries. The term "Pre-romanesque" is sometimes applied to architecture in Germany of the Carolingian and Ottonian periods and Visigothic, Mozarab and Asturian constructions between the 8th and the 10th centuries in the Iberian Peninsula while "First Romanesque" is applied to buildings in north of Italy and Spain and parts of France that have Romanesque features but pre-date the influence of the Abbey of Cluny.
Portal, Church of Santa Maria, Viu de Llevata, Catalonia, Spain
Cloister of the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome
Bell tower of Angoulême Cathedral, Charente, SW France
Window and Lombard band of the Rotunda of San Tomè, Almenno San Bartolomeo
Romanesque architecture Definition articles: 18
Buildings of every type were constructed in the Romanesque style, with evidence remaining of simple domestic buildings, elegant town houses, grand palaces, commercial premises, civic buildings, castles, city walls, bridges, village churches, abbey churches, abbey complexes and large cathedrals. Of these types of buildings, domestic and commercial buildings are the most rare, with only a handful of survivors in the United Kingdom, several clusters in France, isolated buildings across Europe and by far the largest number, often unidentified and altered over the centuries, in Italy. Many castles exist, the foundations of which date from the Romanesque period. Most have been substantially altered, and many are in ruins.
By far the greatest number of surviving Romanesque buildings are churches. These range from tiny chapels to large cathedrals. Although many have been extended and altered in different styles, a large number remain either substantially intact or sympathetically restored, demonstrating the form, character and decoration of Romanesque church architecture.
Saint Nicholas Rotunda in Cieszyn, Poland
The Civic Hall in Massa Marittima, Italy
Abbey Church of St James, Lébény, Hungary (1208)
The keep of Conisbrough Castle, England.
Romanesque architecture Scope articles: 8
Romanesque architecture was the first distinctive style to spread across Europe since the Roman Empire. With the decline of Rome, Roman building methods survived to an extent in Western Europe, where successive Merovingian, Carolingian and Ottonian architects continued to build large stone buildings such as monastery churches and palaces. In the more northern countries, Roman building styles and techniques had never been adopted except for official buildings, while in Scandinavia they were unknown. Although the round arch continued in use, the engineering skills required to vault large spaces and build large domes were lost. There was a loss of stylistic continuity, particularly apparent in the decline of the formal vocabulary of the Classical Orders. In Rome several great Constantinian basilicas continued in use as an inspiration to later builders. Some traditions of Roman architecture also survived in Byzantine architecture with the 6th-century octagonal Byzantine Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna being the inspiration for the greatest building of the Dark Ages in Europe, the Emperor Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel, Aachen, Germany, built around the year AD 800.
Dating shortly after the Palatine Chapel is a remarkable 9th-century Swiss manuscript known as the Plan of Saint Gall and showing a very detailed plan of a monastic complex, with all its various monastic buildings and their functions labelled. The largest building is the church, the plan of which is distinctly Germanic, having an apse at both ends, an arrangement not generally seen elsewhere. Another feature of the church is its regular proportion, the square plan of the crossing tower providing a module for the rest of the plan. These features can both be seen at the Proto-Romanesque St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim, 1001–1030.
Architecture of a Romanesque style also developed simultaneously in the north of Italy, parts of France and in the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century and prior to the later influence of the Abbey of Cluny. The style, sometimes called First Romanesque or Lombard Romanesque, is characterised by thick walls, lack of sculpture and the presence of rhythmic ornamental arches known as a Lombard band.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome (8th – early 12th century) has a basilical plan and reuses ancient Roman columns.
Interior of St. Michael's, Hildesheim, (1001–1031) with alternating piers and columns and a 13th-century painted wooden ceiling
St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim has similar characteristics to the church in the Plan of Saint Gall.
Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III in Old St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Day of 800, with an aim to re-establishing the old Roman Empire. Charlemagne's political successors continued to rule much of Europe, with a gradual emergence of the separate political states that were eventually to become welded into nations, either by allegiance or defeat, into the Kingdom of Germany giving rise to the Holy Roman Empire. The invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066, saw the building of both castles and churches that reinforced the Norman presence. Several significant churches that were built at this time were founded by rulers as seats of temporal and religious power, or places of coronation and burial. These include the Abbaye-Saint-Denis, Speyer Cathedral and Westminster Abbey (where little of the Norman church now remains).
At a time when the remaining architectural structures of the Roman Empire were falling into decay and much of its learning and technology lost, the building of masonry domes and the carving of decorative architectural details continued unabated, though greatly evolved in style since the fall of Rome, in the enduring Byzantine Empire. The domed churches of Constantinople and Eastern Europe were to greatly affect the architecture of certain towns, particularly through trade and through the Crusades. The most notable single building that demonstrates this is St Mark's Basilica, Venice, but there are many lesser-known examples, particularly in France, such as the church of Saint-Front, Périgueux and Angoulême Cathedral.
Much of Europe was affected by feudalism in which peasants held tenure from local rulers over the land that they farmed in exchange for military service. The result of this was that they could be called upon, not only for local and regional spats, but to follow their lord to travel across Europe to the Crusades, if they were required to do so. The Crusades, 1095–1270, brought about a very large movement of people and, with them, ideas and trade skills, particularly those involved in the building of fortifications and the metal working needed for the provision of arms, which was also applied to the fitting and decoration of buildings. The continual movement of people, rulers, nobles, bishops, abbots, craftsmen and peasants, was an important factor in creating a homogeneity in building methods and a recognizable Romanesque style, despite regional differences.
Life became generally less secure after the Carolingian period. This resulted in the building of castles at strategic points, many of them being constructed as strongholds of the Normans, descendants of the Vikings who invaded northern France under Rollo in 911. Political struggles also resulted in the fortification of many towns, or the rebuilding and strengthening of walls that remained from the Roman period. One of the most notable surviving fortifications is that of the city of Carcassonne. The enclosure of towns brought about a lack of living space within the walls, and resulted in a style of town house that was tall and narrow, often surrounding communal courtyards, as at San Gimignano in Tuscany.
In Germany, the Holy Roman Emperors built a number of residences, fortified, but essentially palaces rather than castles, at strategic points and on trade routes. The Imperial Palace of Goslar (heavily restored in the 19th century) was built in the early 11th century by Otto III and Henry III, while the ruined Palace at Gelnhausen was received by Frederick Barbarossa prior to 1170. The movement of people and armies also brought about the building of bridges, some of which have survived, including the 12th-century bridge at Besalú, Catalonia, the 11th-century Puente de la Reina, Navarre and the Pont-Saint-Bénézet, Avignon.
Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclosed with walls, causing crowding and the building of tower houses
Across Europe, the late 11th and 12th centuries saw an unprecedented growth in the number of churches. A great number of these buildings, both large and small, remain, some almost intact and in others altered almost beyond recognition in later centuries. They include many very well known churches such as Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, the Baptistery in Florence and San Zeno Maggiore in Verona. In France, the famous abbeys of Aux Dames and Les Hommes at Caen and Mont Saint-Michel date from this period, as well as the abbeys of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Many cathedrals owe their foundation to this date, with others beginning as abbey churches, and later becoming cathedrals. In England, of the cathedrals of ancient foundation, all were begun in this period with the exception of Salisbury, where the monks relocated from the Norman church at Old Sarum, and several, such as Canterbury, which were rebuilt on the site of Saxon churches. In Spain, the most famous church of the period is Santiago de Compostela. In Germany, the Rhine and its tributaries were the location of many Romanesque abbeys, notably Mainz, Worms, Speyer and Bamberg. In Cologne, then the largest city north of the Alps, a very important group of large city churches survives largely intact. As monasticism spread across Europe, Romanesque churches sprang up in Scotland, Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary, Sicily, Serbia and Tunisia. Several important Romanesque churches were built in the Crusader kingdoms.
The system of monasticism in which the religious become members of an order, with common ties and a common rule, living in a mutually dependent community, rather than as a group of hermits living in proximity but essentially separate, was established by the monk Benedict in the 6th century. The Benedictine monasteries spread from Italy throughout Europe, being always by far the most numerous in England. They were followed by the Cluniac order, the Cistercians, Carthusians and Augustinian Canons. During the Crusades, the military orders of the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar were founded.
The monasteries, which sometimes also functioned as cathedrals, and the cathedrals that had bodies of secular clergy often living in community, were a major source of power in Europe. Bishops and the abbots of important monasteries lived and functioned like princes. The monasteries were the major seats of learning of all sorts. Benedict had ordered that all the arts were to be taught and practiced in the monasteries. Within the monasteries books were transcribed by hand, and few people outside the monasteries could read or write.
In France, Burgundy was the centre of monasticism. The enormous and powerful monastery at Cluny was to have lasting effect on the layout of other monasteries and the design of their churches. Unfortunately, very little of the abbey church at Cluny remains; the "Cluny II" rebuilding of 963 onwards has completely vanished, but we have a good idea of the design of "Cluny III" from 1088 to 1130, which until the Renaissance remained the largest building in Europe. However, the church of St. Sernin at Toulouse, 1080–1120, has remained intact and demonstrates the regularity of Romanesque design with its modular form, its massive appearance and the repetition of the simple arched window motif.
Many parish churches across Europe, such as this in Vestre Slidre, Norway, are of Romanesque foundation
Many cathedrals such as Trier Cathedral, Germany, date from this period, with many later additions
Pilgrimage and Crusade
One of the effects of the Crusades, which were intended to wrest the Holy Places of Palestine from Islamic control, was to excite a great deal of religious fervour, which in turn inspired great building programs. The Nobility of Europe, upon safe return, thanked God by the building of a new church or the enhancement of an old one. Likewise, those who did not return from the Crusades could be suitably commemorated by their family in a work of stone and mortar.
The Crusades resulted in the transfer of, among other things, a great number of Holy Relics of saints and apostles. Many churches, like Saint-Front, Périgueux, had their own home grown saint while others, most notably Santiago de Compostela, claimed the remains and the patronage of a powerful saint, in this case one of the Twelve Apostles. Santiago de Compostela, located in the Kingdom of Galicia (present day Galicia, Spain) became one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe. Most of the pilgrims travelled the Way of St. James on foot, many of them barefooted as a sign of penance. They moved along one of the four main routes that passed through France, congregating for the journey at Jumièges, Paris, Vézelay, Cluny, Arles and St. Gall in Switzerland. They crossed two passes in the Pyrenees and converged into a single stream to traverse north-western Spain. Along the route they were urged on by those pilgrims returning from the journey. On each of the routes abbeys such as those at Moissac, Toulouse, Roncesvalles, Conques, Limoges and Burgos catered for the flow of people and grew wealthy from the passing trade. Saint-Benoît-du-Sault, in the Berry province, is typical of the churches that were founded on the pilgrim route.
Romanesque architecture History articles: 110
The general impression given by Romanesque architecture, in both ecclesiastical and secular buildings, is one of massive solidity and strength. In contrast with both the preceding Roman and later Gothic architecture, in which the load-bearing structural members are, or appear to be, columns, pilasters and arches, Romanesque architecture, in common with Byzantine architecture, relies upon its walls, or sections of walls called piers.
Romanesque architecture is often divided into two periods known as the "First Romanesque" style and the "Romanesque" style. The difference is chiefly a matter of the expertise with which the buildings were constructed. The First Romanesque employed rubble walls, smaller windows and unvaulted roofs. A greater refinement marks the Second Romanesque, along with increased use of the vault and dressed stone.
The walls of Romanesque buildings are often of massive thickness with few and comparatively small openings. They are often double shells, filled with rubble.
The building material differs greatly across Europe, depending upon the local stone and building traditions. In Italy, Poland, much of Germany and parts of the Netherlands, brick is generally used. Other areas saw extensive use of limestone, granite and flint. The building stone was often used in comparatively small and irregular pieces, bedded in thick mortar. Smooth ashlar masonry was not a distinguishing feature of the style, particularly in the earlier part of the period, but occurred chiefly where easily worked limestone was available.
Because of the massive nature of Romanesque walls, buttresses are not a highly significant feature, as they are in Gothic architecture. Romanesque buttresses are generally of flat square profile and do not project a great deal beyond the wall. In the case of aisled churches, barrel vaults, or half-barrel vaults over the aisles helped to buttress the nave, if it was vaulted.
In the cases where half-barrel vaults were used, they effectively became like flying buttresses. Often aisles extended through two storeys, rather than the one usual in Gothic architecture, so as to better support the weight of a vaulted nave. In the case of Durham Cathedral, flying buttresses have been employed, but are hidden inside the triforium gallery.
Castle Rising, England, shows flat buttresses and reinforcing at the corners of the building typical in both castles and churches.
Cerisy-la-Forêt abbey, Normandy, France, has a compact appearance with aisles rising through two storeys buttressing the vault.
St Albans Cathedral England, demonstrates the typical alterations made to the fabric of many Romanesque buildings in different styles and materials
Arches and openings
The arches used in Romanesque architecture are nearly always semicircular, for openings such as doors and windows, for vaults and for arcades. Wide doorways are usually surmounted by a semi-circular arch, except where a door with a lintel is set into a large arched recess and surmounted by a semi-circular "lunette" with decorative carving. These doors sometimes have a carved central jamb.
Narrow doors and small windows might be surmounted by a solid stone lintel. Larger openings are nearly always arched. A characteristic feature of Romanesque architecture, both ecclesiastic and domestic, is the pairing of two arched windows or arcade openings, separated by a pillar or colonette and often set within a larger arch. Ocular windows are common in Italy, particularly in the facade gable and are also seen in Germany. Later Romanesque churches may have wheel windows or rose windows with plate tracery.
There are a very small number of buildings in the Romanesque style, such as Autun Cathedral in France and Monreale Cathedral in Sicily in which pointed arches have been used extensively, apparently for stylistic reasons. It is believed that in these cases there is a direct imitation of Islamic architecture. At other late Romanesque churches such as Durham Cathedral, and Cefalù Cathedral, the pointed arch was introduced as a structural device in ribbed vaulting. Its increasing application was fundamental to the development of Gothic architecture.
An arcade is a row of arches, supported on piers or columns. They occur in the interior of large churches, separating the nave from the aisles, and in large secular interiors spaces, such as the great hall of a castle, supporting the timbers of a roof or upper floor. Arcades also occur in cloisters and atriums, enclosing an open space.
Arcades can occur in storeys or stages. While the arcade of a cloister is typically of a single stage, the arcade that divides the nave and aisles in a church is typically of two stages, with a third stage of window openings known as the clerestory rising above them. Arcading on a large scale generally fulfils a structural purpose, but it is also used, generally on a smaller scale, as a decorative feature, both internally and externally where it is frequently "blind arcading" with only a wall or a narrow passage behind it.
The atrium and arcaded narthex of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan, Italy, is a harmonious composition of similar arches.
The facade of Notre Dame du Puy, le Puy en Velay, France, has a more complex arrangement of diversified arches: Doors of varying widths, blind arcading, windows and open arcades.
Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude, Nivelles, Belgium uses fine shafts of Belgian marble to define alternating blind openings and windows. Upper windows are similarly separated into two openings by colonettes.
Worms Cathedral, Germany, displays a great variety of openings and arcades including wheel and rose windows, many small simple windows, galleries and Lombard courses.
The south portal of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, France, has a square door divided by an ornate doorpost, surmounted by a carved tympanum and set within a vast arched porch.
In Romanesque architecture, piers were often employed to support arches. They were built of masonry and square or rectangular in section, generally having a horizontal moulding representing a capital at the springing of the arch. Sometimes piers have vertical shafts attached to them, and may also have horizontal mouldings at the level of the base.
Although basically rectangular, piers can often be of highly complex form, with half-segments of large hollow-core columns on the inner surface supporting the arch, or a clustered group of smaller shafts leading into the mouldings of the arch.
Piers that occur at the intersection of two large arches, such as those under the crossing of the nave and transept, are commonly cruciform in shape, each arch having its own supporting rectangular pier at right angles to the other.
Columns are an important structural feature of Romanesque architecture. Colonnettes and attached shafts are also used structurally and for decoration. Monolithic columns cut from a single piece of stone were frequently used in Italy, as they had been in Roman and Early Christian architecture. They were also used, particularly in Germany, when they alternated between more massive piers. Arcades of columns cut from single pieces are also common in structures that do not bear massive weights of masonry, such as cloisters, where they are sometimes paired.
In Italy, during this period, a great number of antique Roman columns were salvaged and reused in the interiors and on the porticos of churches. The most durable of these columns are of marble and have the stone horizontally bedded. The majority are vertically bedded and are sometimes of a variety of colours. They may have retained their original Roman capitals, generally of the Corinthian or Roman Composite style. Some buildings, like Santa Maria in Cosmedin (illustrated above) and the atrium at San Clemente in Rome, may have an odd assortment of columns in which large capitals are placed on short columns and small capitals are placed on taller columns to even the height. Architectural compromises of this type are seen where materials have been salvaged from a number of buildings. Salvaged columns were also used to a lesser extent in France.
In most parts of Europe, Romanesque columns were massive, as they supported thick upper walls with small windows, and sometimes heavy vaults. The most common method of construction was to build them out of stone cylinders called drums, as in the crypt at Speyer Cathedral.
Hollow core columns
Where really massive columns were called for, such as those at Durham Cathedral, they were constructed of ashlar masonry and the hollow core was filled with rubble. These huge untapered columns are sometimes ornamented with incised decorations.
A common characteristic of Romanesque buildings, occurring both in churches and in the arcades that separate large interior spaces of castles, is the alternation of piers and columns.
The most simple form that this takes is to have a column between each adjoining pier. Sometimes the columns are in multiples of two or three. At St. Michael's, Hildesheim, an A B B A alternation occurs in the nave while an A B A alternation can be seen in the transepts.
At Jumièges there are tall drum columns between piers each of which has a half-column supporting the arch. There are many variations on this theme, most notably at Durham Cathedral where the mouldings and shafts of the piers are of exceptional richness and the huge masonry columns are deeply incised with geometric patterns.
Often the arrangement was made more complex by the complexity of the piers themselves, so that it was not piers and columns that alternated, but rather, piers of entirely different form from each other, such as those of Sant' Ambrogio, Milan, where the nature of the vault dictated that the alternate piers bore a great deal more weight than the intermediate ones and are thus very much larger.
St Michael's, Hildesheim, shows two columns set between the piers.
Mainz Cathedral, Germany, has rectangular piers and possibly the earliest example of an internal elevation of 3 stages. (Gothic vault)
Malmesbury Abbey, England, has hollow core columns, probably filled with rubble. (Gothic vault)
The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, has large drum columns with attached shafts supporting a barrel vault.
Durham Cathedral, England, has decorated masonry columns alternating with piers of clustered shafts supporting the earliest pointed high ribs.
The foliate Corinthian style provided the inspiration for many Romanesque capitals, and the accuracy with which they were carved depended very much on the availability of original models, those in Italian churches such as Pisa Cathedral or church of Sant'Alessandro in Lucca and southern France being much closer to the Classical than those in England.
The Corinthian capital is essentially round at the bottom where it sits on a circular column and square at the top, where it supports the wall or arch. This form of capital was maintained in the general proportions and outline of the Romanesque capital. This was achieved most simply by cutting a rectangular block and taking the four lower corners off at an angle so that the block was square at the top, but octagonal at the bottom, as can be seen at St. Michael's Hildesheim. This shape lent itself to a wide variety of superficial treatments, sometimes foliate in imitation of the source, but often figurative. In Northern Europe the foliate capitals generally bear far more resemblance to the intricacies of manuscript illumination than to Classical sources. In parts of France and Italy there are strong links to the pierced capitals of Byzantine architecture. It is in the figurative capitals that the greatest originality is shown. While some are dependent on manuscripts illustrations of Biblical scenes and depictions of beasts and monsters, others are lively scenes of the legends of local saints.
The capitals, while retaining the form of a square top and a round bottom, were often compressed into little more than a bulging cushion-shape. This is particularly the case on large masonry columns, or on large columns that alternate with piers as at Durham.(See illustrated above)
Simple capital of a Doric form supporting a Mozarabic arch, São Pedro de Lourosa Church, Portugal
Capital of Corinthian form with anthropomorphised details, Pisa Campanile, Italy
Capital of Corinthian form with Byzantine decoration and carved dosseret, San Martín de Tours, Palencia
Capital of simplified concave Corinthian form with billeted abacus, simple dosseret and pronounced annulet. Church of Santa Maria, San Martín de Castañeda, Spain
Capital of convex cubic form with its abacus, concave dosseret and cable decoration defined by polychrome. Herina. Capitals of this shape are often decorated with "Barbaric" carvings of foliage, and mythical creatures.
Capital of amorphous form surmounting a cluster of shafts. The figurative carving shows a winged devil directing Herod to slaughter the Innocents. Monastery of San Juan de Duero, Soria, Spain
Vaults and roofs
The majority of buildings have wooden roofs, generally of a simple truss, tie beam or king post form. In the case of trussed rafter roofs, they are sometimes lined with wooden ceilings in three sections like those that survive at Ely and Peterborough cathedrals in England. In churches, typically the aisles are vaulted, but the nave is roofed with timber, as is the case at both Peterborough and Ely. In Italy where open wooden roofs are common, and tie beams frequently occur in conjunction with vaults, the timbers have often been decorated as at San Miniato al Monte, Florence.
Vaults of stone or brick took on several different forms and showed marked development during the period, evolving into the pointed ribbed arch characteristic of Gothic architecture.
The simplest type of vaulted roof is the barrel vault in which a single arched surface extends from wall to wall, the length of the space to be vaulted, for example, the nave of a church. An important example, which retains Medieval paintings, is the vault of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, France, of the early 12th century. However, the barrel vault generally required the support of solid walls, or walls in which the windows were very small.
Groin vaults occur in early Romanesque buildings, notably at Speyer Cathedral where the high vault of about 1060 is the first employment in Romanesque architecture of this type of vault for a wide nave. In later buildings employing ribbed vaultings, groin vaults are most frequently used for the less visible and smaller vaults, particularly in crypts and aisles. A groin vault is almost always square in plan and is constructed of two barrel vaults intersecting at right angles. Unlike a ribbed vault, the entire arch is a structural member. Groin vaults are frequently separated by transverse arched ribs of low profile as at Speyer and Santiago de Compostela. At Sainte Marie Madeleine, Vézelay, the ribs are square in section, strongly projecting and polychrome.
Ribbed vaults came into general use in the 12th century. In ribbed vaults, not only are there ribs spanning the vaulted area transversely, but each vaulted bay has diagonal ribs, following the same course as the groins in a groin vault. However, whereas in a groin vault, the vault itself is the structural member, in a ribbed vault, it is the ribs that are the structural members, and the spaces between them can be filled with lighter, non-structural material.
Because Romanesque arches are nearly always semi-circular, the structural and design problem inherent in the ribbed vault is that the diagonal span is larger and therefore higher than the transverse span. The Romanesque builders used a number of solutions to this problem. One was to have the centre point where the diagonal ribs met as the highest point, with the infill of all the surfaces sloping upwards towards it, in a domical manner. This solution was employed in Italy at San Michele, Pavia, and Sant' Ambrogio, Milan.
The solution employed in England was to stilt the transverse ribs, maintaining a horizontal central line to the roof like that of a barrel vault. The diagonal ribs could also be depressed, a solution used on the sexpartite vaults at both the Saint-Étienne, (Abbaye-aux-Hommes) and Sainte-Trinité, (Abbaye-aux-Dames) at Caen, France, in the late 11th and early 12th centuries.
Pointed arched vault
The problems encountered in the structure and appearance of vaults was solved late in the Romanesque period with the introduction of pointed arched ribs which allowed the height of both diagonal and transverse ribs to be varied in proportion to each other. Pointed ribs made their first appearance in the transverse ribs of the vaults at Durham Cathedral in northern England, dating from 1128. Durham is a cathedral of massive Romanesque proportions and appearance, yet its builders introduced several structural features that were new to architectural design and were later to be hallmark features of the Gothic. Another Gothic structural feature employed at Durham is the flying buttress. However, these are hidden beneath the roofs of the aisles. The earliest pointed vault in France is that of the narthex of La Madeleine, Vézelay, dating from 1130. They were subsequently employed with the development of the Gothic style at the east end of the Basilica of St Denis in Paris in 1140. An early ribbed vault in the Romanesque architecture of Sicily is that of the chancel at the Cathedral of Cefalù.
Domes in Romanesque architecture are generally found within crossing towers at the intersection of a church's nave and transept, which conceal the domes externally. Called a tiburio, this tower-like structure often has a blind arcade near the roof. Romanesque domes are typically octagonal in plan and use corner squinches to translate a square bay into a suitable octagonal base. Octagonal cloister vaults appear "in connection with basilicas almost throughout Europe" between 1050 and 1100. The precise form differs from region to region.
The painted barrel vault at the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe is supported on tall marbled columns.
The nave of Lisbon Cathedral is covered by a series of transverse barrel vaults separated by transverse arches and has an upper, arched gallery (triforium).
The Church of St Philibert, Tournus, has a series of transverse barrel vaults supported on diaphragm arches.
The aisle of the Abbey Church at Mozac has groin vaults supported on transverse arches.
The aisles at Peterborough Cathedral have quadripartite ribbed vaults. (The nave has an ancient painted wooden ceiling.)
The ribbed vaults at Saint-Étienne, Caen, are sexpartite and span two bays of the nave.