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Freda Anderson

Ornamental device used extensively in the Romanesque period, particularly in the 12th century. It is formed of small blocks, either flat and square or cylindrical, spaced out in horizontal bands (see fig.). Billets in a single band occur frequently (e.g. the nave string course at Ely Cathedral; early 12th century), but are found less often in double bands (e.g. an impost in the crypt of Worcester Cathedral; from 1084). Their most common arrangement is in three bands: the blocks in the two lower bands are placed under the voids in the band above to give a chequerboard effect (e.g. the interior east windows of Paray-le-Monial Priory, France). Where there are more than three bands (e.g. the north portal of Charlieu Priory, France) the billets are tiny. Occasionally, as in the north portal of Fontgombault Abbey, billets are placed without voids, side by side.

Examples of billet ornament survive from the 6th century ...



John Thomas

Form of three-dimensional zigzag ornament particularly associated with Anglo-Norman Romanesque architecture, where it was used to decorate arches, doorways and windows. An equivalent term is dancette (or dancetty), although this is generally reserved for the zigzags used in heraldry. The stripes and flashes set on to the sleeves of military uniform tunics are also chevrons. Architectural chevron is possibly related to Byzantine brick saw-tooth ornament, transmitted indirectly through the decoration of, for example, canon tables in Carolingian and Ottonian illuminated manuscripts (e.g. the Gospel Book of Bernward of Hildesheim; c. 1000; Hildesheim, Diözmus. & Domschatzkam., MS. 18). The saw-tooth motif appears in Romanesque wall painting until the late 12th century (e.g. Terrassa, Spain, S Maria; c. 1175–1200). Chevron is not common in Western buildings before ad 1000, but it is found in Islamic architecture as early as the 8th century at Qusayr ‛Amra, and although it remains unclear precisely how chevron became so closely associated with Anglo-Norman architecture, Borg has suggested that both manuscript illuminations and knowledge of Islamic buildings brought by returning crusaders after ...