1st Edition

The Wise Master Builder Platonic Geometry in Plans of Medieval Abbeys and Cathederals

By Nigel Hiscock Copyright 2000
    462 Pages
    by Routledge

    This title was first published in 2000:  Did the plan of medieval churches have any underlying symbolic meaning? This work re-opens the debate about the importance of geometry and symbolism in medieval architectural design and argues the case for attributing an intellectual meaning to the planning of abbeys and cathedrals. In challenging prevailing claims for the use of arithmetical rations in architectural design, notably those based on the square root of two, Dr Hiscock advances a perspective consisting of proportions derived from the figures of Platonic geometry - the square, the equilateral triangle and the pentagon - and provides evidence for the symbolic interpretation of these figures. The investigation further reveals whole series of geometric relationships between some of England's most celebrated Norman cathedrals, such as Norwich or Durham, together with a wide sample from the Continent, from Old St Peter's in Rome to Chartres Cathedral, and sets out a comprehensive design method in each case.

    Preface, List of figures and plates, Acknowledgements, Part One: Introduction, Part Two: The historical context, 1. The tenth century, 2. Classical and early Christian sources, 3. Metaphysical belief and architectural metaphor, 4. 'The white mantle of churches', 5. Medieval architectural practice, Part Three: The geometric investigation, 6. Application of geometry to plans, 7. Comparative analysis, 8. Counter examples, Part Four: Conclusions, 9. Findings, conclusions and implementation, 10. Inferences and implications, Appendices, 1. The geometric investigation: measurement and accuracy, 2. The geometric investigation: criteria for evaluation, 3. Dimensions for St Michael, Hildesheim, 4. Dimensions for St Peter's Old Basilica, Rome, Bibliography, Index


    Nigel Hiscock