Working with Limestone: The Science, Technology and Art of Medieval Limestone Monuments, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Working with Limestone

The Science, Technology and Art of Medieval Limestone Monuments, 1st Edition

Edited by Vibeke Olson


288 pages

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Hardback: 9780754662464
pub: 2011-02-28
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This new volume in the AVISTA series focuses on the study of medieval limestone. As the principal building material in the Middle Ages and a prized medium for architectural sculpture, limestone played a significant role in medieval artistic manufacture. The choice of material inherently informed the final product, thus understanding the material and its uses gives insight into the medieval creative process and the production-driven choices that were made by masons and sculptors. Quality limestone was a highly sought-after commodity that was often shipped across great distances; yet in other instances, masons made do with locally available resources. Through an intensive study of medium, many broader topics can be addressed, for instance the economics of medieval construction, the artistic process, or the application of modern technology in understanding and preserving medieval buildings and sculpture. The papers collected in this volume present the depth and scope of recent scholarship in the field, through a wide-ranging overview of the state of the discipline of medieval stone studies. They address such methodological approaches to the study of limestone as the use of neutron activation analysis to determine quarries of origin, issues of labor and transportation, as well as issues faced in the cleaning and conservation of limestone. This volume is the first comprehensive study in English that investigates limestone as an essential component of large-scale medieval artistic production, and as such, it is a valuable resource for both students and scholars in the field.


'The volume makes a fine contribution to an area of investigation that has long been neglected or addressed only to specialists, but which is becoming both welcome and useful to a wider audience.' Charles T Little, Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 'Working with Limestone is a useful compendium of recent technical investigations of Romanesque and Gothic limestone sculpture and architecture.' Technology & Culture

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction, William W. Clark, Georgia Sommers Wright and Nancy Wu; Part I The Science and Technology of Limestone: Analysis, Geology and Conservation: Medieval limestone by the numbers, Lore L. Holmes and Garman Harbottle with Annie Blanc; Orphan heads: Notre-Dame and Saint-Jacques-aux Pèlerins in Paris and Saint-Pierre at Jumièges, Georgia Sommers Wright with Lore L. Holmes and Garman Harbottle; Limestone, Lincoln cathedral and neutron activation analysis: pushing the methodological envelope, Thomas Russo, Lore L. Holmes and Garman Harbottle; Stone from medieval churches located to the south and east of Paris, Annie Blanc and Jean-Pierre Gély; Building stones at Saint-Denis from its beginnings to the 18th century, Jean-Pierre Gély and Michaël Wyss; Treatment techniques for the conservation of limestone monuments, Jonathan Hoyte. Part II The Technology and Art of Limestone: Industry, Labor and Design: Use and non-use of limestone in Romanesque Burgundy: the example of Autun, Walter Berry; On the road again: limestone sculpture in 12th-century France, Janet Snyder; The whole is the sum of its parts: standardizing medieval limestone production, Vibeke Olsen; Masons and their materials in medieval Ireland, Roger Stalley; Discipline and freedom in the shaping of stone: the interface of architecture, structure and sculpture late in the Middle Ages, Nigel Hiscock; Index.

About the Editor

Vibeke Olson is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, USA

About the Series

AVISTA Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art

AVISTA Studies in History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art is a series organised by AVISTA (The Association Villard de Honnecourt for Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science and Art). The aim of the series is to promote the cross-disciplinary objectives of AVISTA by publishing in the areas of the history of science, technology, architecture, and art. The society takes its name from Villard (Wilars) de Honnecourt, an elusive persona of the 13th century whose autograph portfolio contains a variety of fascinating drawings and descriptions of both the fine and mechanical arts.

For further information about the series please contact Michael Greenwood at


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Medieval