Allan M. Brodie and Nicola Coldstream
Stone framework to hold sheets of glass in place within a window opening. Tracery is a particularly characteristic feature of Gothic architecture, appearing first in the late 12th century as a means of creating enlarged window openings. The term is derived from the stage in the construction process in which a window pattern was traced out on a bed of plaster laid on a tracing floor (see Tracing floor), as can still be seen at York Minster (see York, §III, 1, (i)). Individual tracery bars were then cut and laid in position on this surface before being inserted into the window-frame. By the early 13th century the patterns created for windows were extended to decorating wall surfaces. Construction techniques were perfected by c. 1230, allowing architects to concentrate on developing increasingly complex patterns. Tracery remained in widespread use until the end of the 16th century. Though initially and primarily a technique in ...