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Lars-Olof Albertson

[Aakirkeby] [Aa church]

Romanesque church in the village of Åkirkeby on the island Bornholm, Denmark. The church, dedicated to St Hans, was constructed in the second half of the 12th century and is the largest church on Bornholm. The oldest parts are the apse, the choir, and the lowest part of the nave. The upper part of the nave and the tower were later additions. The porch dates from the first half of the 13th century and is one of the oldest in Denmark. A greenish sandstone and brownish slate were used for the walls. The nave was constructed with two arcade walls, one running in the middle of the nave from the triumph wall to the tower wall, the other one running from the south entrance to the north entrance. Both were removed during restoration in 1874. In the Middle Ages the church belonged to the chapter at Lund Cathedral and was the seat for one of the canons and was also known as ‘Kapitalskirken’ or the Chapter Church....


Cathedral in Co. Galway, Ireland, dedicated to St Brendan. The rubble walls of the pre-Romanesque nave (10th or 11th century) originally formed a simple rectangular church. The rectangular chancel, with its paired east windows, was added in the early 13th century, and in the Late Gothic period the building was enlarged with transept-like chapels and an elegant square belfry, similar to those in Irish friaries, above the west end of the nave. The cathedral is renowned chiefly for the 12th-century sandstone doorway inserted into its west façade (see Romanesque, §III, 1, (v), (e)).

The decoration of the doorway consists of an extraordinary range of motifs, of both foreign and Irish derivation, forming the most idiosyncratic of all Hiberno-Romanesque portals. Jambs, archivolts, and a high-pitched ‘tangent gable’ were exploited as fields for a dense array of pattern-making. Following ancient Irish custom, the decorated jambs are inclined inwards. They support seven orders of deeply cut voussoirs, ornamented with interlace, bosses, scallops, geometrical designs, and beast heads. The beast heads bite a roll moulding and are comparable to those on the west portal of the Nuns’ Church at Clonmacnois (Offaly). The gable contains an arcade and a series of triangular compartments filled alternately with carved human heads and floral motifs. The five heads that peer out from the arcade may have had painted bodies, possibly emulating the enamelled figures with cast bronze heads found on contemporary Limoges plaques. Among the many delightful details are the rows of tiny beast heads on the lower faces of the abaci. Characteristic of the Hiberno-Romanesque is the juxtaposition of shallow carving, as is found here on both the jambs and pilasters, with much deeper cutting, as on the archivolts. Although this eclectic and exotic design was once attributed to the 1160s, most scholars now prefer a date of ...


Wilhelm Deuer and Nigel J. Morgan

Romanesque cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, located in a market town north of Klagenfurt, Austria. According to tradition, Gräfin Hemma von Zeltschach-Gurk (beatified 1287; can 1938) founded a convent between 1043 and 1045 in the remote valley of Gurk. In 1072, after its dissolution, Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg declared the site the seat of a suffragan bishop. The diocese was tightly controlled from Salzburg. The cathedral was begun under Bishop Roman I (1131–67), and in 1174 the relics of Hemma were translated to the crypt. A violent dispute between the Archbishop of Salzburg and the Bishop of Gurk over Gurk’s independent status resulted in a break in the building campaign from 1179 to 1180; the dedication of the main altar and the subsequent construction of the transept brought the second campaign to an end in 1200. The conversion of the western gallery into a richly decorated ‘Bishop’s Chapel’ was planned by Bishop ...


Matthew M. Reeve

Cathedral on the north bank of the River Wye in Herefordshire. Although a cathedral church has been here since the 9th century or earlier, the present building is essentially a monumental Romanesque basilica with a ruined Bishop’s Palace and out buildings, with later medieval modifications and additions, notably the north transept, the Lady Chapel, chantry chapels, and the Booth porch. Significant losses to the medieval fabric occurred in 1786 with the fall of the western tower, destroying parts of the nave and the western façade, which were subsequently rebuilt by Wyatt family §(2). In the 19th century major parts of the building were again restored or rebuilt by the Gothic Revival collector and conservator Lewis Nockalls Cottingham.

The earliest surviving parts date to the Romanesque rebuilding of c. 1107–48. The Romanesque church was a cruciform basilica, which originally included a three-bay eastern arm with groin-vaulted aisles, and a projecting east chapel and twin east towers. From the crossing extended three-bay transepts to the north and south. The nave was heavily remodeled or rebuilt after ...


Malcolm Thurlby

English parish church in Hereford and Worcester dedicated to SS Mary and Paul. The architectural sculpture of Kilpeck is the best-preserved example of the ‘Herefordshire school’ of Romanesque carving; the south doorway, chancel arch, apse boss, west window and corbels are all richly carved. The church is of sandstone. It was probably built c. 1134, when it was given to St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester (now the cathedral). The sculptors had probably worked at Shobdon Church after 1131 (and one was previously employed at Tewkesbury Abbey). The Kilpeck sculpture reflects many other influences; the positioning of figures carved in relief one above the other on the jamb-shafts of the chancel arch recalls a similar feature on the Puerta de las Platerías, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, which had been visited by Oliver de Merlimond, founder of Shobdon, c. 1131. Superimposed figures also occur on the doorway, although here they are intertwined in foliage, as at Shobdon, and have characteristic ‘Herefordshire school’ ribbed draperies and Phrygian caps. The basic form and geometric decoration of the doorway are similar to the work of the ‘Dymock school’, while from Hereford Cathedral come the foliate motifs and large egg-shaped heads and clinging draperies of the chancel arch figures. The beakheads and medallions of the doorway reflect Reading Abbey, perhaps through the lost cloister of its daughter-house, Leominster Priory. The radiating voussoirs and certain corbels betray western French sources (e.g. Aulnay-de-Saintonge), and the unusual form of the paired columns of the doorway is paralleled in the cloister of St Aubin at Angers, although the interlacing serpents on the outer shafts and crocodile-like heads projecting from the west wall are Scandinavian-inspired. One of its most famous sculptures is the celebrated Sheela-na-Gig corbel figure, a rare example of this motif outside of Ireland....


Jacques Thiébaut

Former collegiate church in Nivelles, Belgium. The present fabric combines an Ottonian basilica with a later Romanesque forebuilding; although it has been much restored, the church is almost the sole surviving example of Ottonian architecture in the Meuse region. A Benedictine abbey for both monks and nuns under the direction of an abbess was founded at Nivelles by Itta (d ad 652), widow of Pepin I of Landen (d 640), at the instigation of St Amand, Bishop of Maastricht (reg 647–50). Itta’s daughter Gertrude was the first abbess. From the start the foundation comprised three churches: Notre-Dame for the nuns, St Paul for the monks and St Pierre, the cemetery church, in which St Gertrude was buried (659); the last was later dedicated to St Gertrude with the development of her cult. By the 10th century the monastery had become a collegiate foundation of canons and canonesses....


Nigel J. Morgan

Spanish Augustinian religious house in Huesca, Aragon, founded in 1183 by Sancha (d 1208), wife of Alfonso II of Aragon (reg 1162–96). The church (1188) has a nave and two aisles and is a Latin cross in plan. It has a fine Romanesque portal. Sancha is buried in the church, and the mausoleum chapel of S Pedro off the north transept contains the tombs of her son Peter II of Aragon (d 1213), his sister, and some of his comrades-in-arms. The tombs of the prioresses are elsewhere in the church. There are also a Romanesque cloister and a rectangular chapter house with wall paintings (see §1 below). Features dating from the 13th century include the Mudéjar ceiling and paintings in the Prioress’s Room, and a cycle of paintings in the church. The chapel of S Juan was added to the church in ...


Harriet Sonne de Torrens


Twelfth-century church, restored in 1905, located in the south-eastern region of Skåne in Sweden, which during the medieval period was a province of Denmark. Simris Church was built as part of a massive construction of Romanesque churches that occurred across the North after Asser was declared the first Archbishop of Lund (1103/1104) and the reigns of Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Canute VI (reg 1182–1202) brought political stability to the new alliance between Church and State. The richly ornamented church preserves one of three baptismal fonts in Skåne carved by the Majestatis Tryde workshop (the other two are Östra Nobbelöv and Stenkyrka), and it has retained the fragmentary remains of late medieval wall paintings on the western wall and in the chancel, attributed to the Konga group dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, which depict events from the Life of Christ.

The chalice-shaped font, made of sandstone, was carved with a two-tiered, hierarchical, pictorial programme around the upper basin; the basin is supported by a stone base with four animal heads and motifs between each head. Scenes from the ...