The Easel

Archives: The Past

21st June 2022

The birth of Gothic: building heaven on earth

The first identifiably gothic structure was the church at St Denis, north of Paris. Its components – pointed arches, flying buttresses and rib-vaulted ceilings – already existed but when used together, proved distinctive. Soon, ambitious 11th century churchmen everywhere wanted what only gothic could provide – height (at least 100m. please) and light. Itinerant stone masons were happy to share the new technology and, across Europe, religious architecture had its most defining era.