The Master Builders: The Construction of a Great Church

21 minutes, color, age range: 8 - 15 years, #136

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The Master Builders: The Construction of a Great Church

Roberta Gilchrist reveals aspects of Beverley Minster, England

Medieval builders produced some of the finest structures that the world has seen in terms of technical sophistication, engineering skill, grace in design, and sheer size. This video follows the building of a cathedral from the earliest stages of fundraising and planning to its construction from the foundations to the roof. By looking at the existing fabric of Beverley Minster, England, in an archaeological light, we can reconstruct some of the methods used to design and build it. Firstly a present-day architect shows how the master builders used the principle of proportional geometry to develop the complicated design with a minimum of equipment. Excavations show evidence of how the foundations support the colossal weight of the building and overcome the problems of the ground beneath.

A draftsman uses modern techniques to create a template for cutting the stone, basing it on surviving working drawings. Construction methods are shown, including the use of scaffolding and cranes, and the building of curved arches to form an interior framework, and flying buttresses to stop the walls from bulging. Many of the individual tool marks left by the masons, plumbers and joiners survive today and help to date the various stages in the building project. Finally, the cracks in the central tower serve as a reminder that not even the master builders were infallible.

Part of the series Frameworks of Worship

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Credits

Director: John Murray
Writer: Richard Morris
Presenter/Narrator: Roberta Gilchrist
English Heritage:

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