Digitally Aided Analysis: A New Reading of the Cloister Vaults at Norwich Cathedral

Webb, NJ ORCID: 0000-0002-5998-1961, Buchanan, AC ORCID: 0000-0001-9433-9651 and Hillson, JE
(2023) Digitally Aided Analysis: A New Reading of the Cloister Vaults at Norwich Cathedral. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE, ahead- (ahead-). pp. 1-24.

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This article offers a new approach to analysing the medieval vaults of Norwich cathedral cloister, which at first appearance seem to be of a consistent design, yet detailed inspection and analysis reveals this not to be the case. Whilst previous scholars have recognised the presence of inconsistencies, their focus has been on chronology, patronage as well as the iconographic programme of the extraordinary range of sculpted bosses. Our approach is based on accurate digital surveying and analysis methods and comparison with similar data obtained from other sites. This enables us to understand the design of the cloister vaults in plan, including bay proportions and the nuances of the tierceron star arrangement of ribs. We then employ a representation technique termed the ‘middle plan’ to identify and analyse specific design runs and their breaks in a greater level of detail than previously achieved, including analysis of geometric data to explain different processes that were likely used to create the curvatures of individual ribs. In doing so, we have identified methods not previously described, which reveal the inventiveness of medieval masons faced with a series of complex constructional issues and enabling them to achieve a range of visual effects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: cloisters, construction history, design processes, digital analysis, geometry, Gothic, medieval architecture, Norwich cathedral, surveying, vaults
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2023 08:32
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2024 18:37
DOI: 10.1080/15583058.2023.2247379
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