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Helen F
Warrington
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1 of 6  Thu 10th Jan 2019 11:57pm  
Moderator: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:2599

Most of us are used to the following map of St Mary's Cathedral, St Michael's and Holy Trinity or something similar. One annoying detail is that the north on the map does not line up with the north on Google Maps. Then you start to wonder why all three are at different angles. The individual parts of the buildings are also... wonky. There are theories about the constraints of the landscape, existing buildings and land ownership. There are suggestions that the imperfections are deliberate and have symbolic meaning but I propose another possibility. North moved. Evidence for the orientation of buildings by the means of a magnetic compass can be found in 12th-century Denmark: one fourth of its 570 Romanesque churches are rotated by 5–15 degrees clockwise from true east-west, thus corresponding to the predominant magnetic declination of the time of their construction. Most of these churches were built in the 12th century, indicating a fairly common usage of magnetic compasses in Europe by then. St Mary's was started about 1100, too early for the compass but it was built in stages ranging over several hundred years with the final apse design not finished until about 1540. St Michael's was started about the same time but was almost entirely rebuilt after the castle was demolished. It was at least 150 years younger than the priory cathedral in its main alignment. It might have been an endless frustration of each new master builder that the previous one couldn't use a compass properly. Edited by member, 11th Jan 2019 12:03 am
Misaligned Churches
flapdoodle
Coventry
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2 of 6  Fri 11th Jan 2019 12:14am  
Member: Joined Nov 2010  Total posts:884

‘Magnetic North’ differs from ‘true’ North due to magnetic declination... and this changes based on location and also over time.
Misaligned Churches
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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3 of 6  Fri 11th Jan 2019 10:38am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3788

Helen F That is truly an amazing map of St Mary's, that I have never come across before. Intriguing - as a child, the priory reminds me of sunlight and green hills, cool water and the warmth of bright mornings, an age old world one can only dream about. Thank you, Helen.
Misaligned Churches
Helen F
Warrington
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4 of 6  Fri 11th Jan 2019 4:43pm  
Moderator: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:2599

Kaga, it is a nice map from the work by an archaeologist, Brian Hobley. That map and many more pictures of the 60s excavations are published and I got a copy for Christmas. Comes up for sale periodically (other book companies available) If you watch the Time Team dig they use photo copies of the book to start re-digging Hobley's trenches and uncover the Chapterhouse doorway. A lot more excavation has been done since then and each time a better picture of the cathedral layout emerges. Some things on the map were wrong (eg the position of the western gate into the forecourt was smaller and further north. The buildings to the north of the chapterhouse are different from what was thought in Hobley's day. There weren't the two suggested apse chapels and there are just the three at the east end, not five. Of the more recent books - More user friendly (wait for a cheaper copy) Most technical and most recent All three books are very interesting but quite technical. I mostly just look at the pretty pictures.
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Prof
Gloucester
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5 of 6  Wed 16th Jan 2019 8:27pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:1534

Helen F, thanks so much for the information on Coventry Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology in the city and its vicinity. I received it today from Amazon Books for just over £20. It is full of interest and detail with many b&w illustrations and maps, and a really nice section of colour photos too.
Misaligned Churches
Helen F
Warrington
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6 of 6  Thu 17th Jan 2019 10:38am  
Moderator: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:2599

Glad you found a cheaper copy Prof, it pays to shop around on books. Some of the archaeology books are better than others but those three are all good ones. I have a soft spot for Linda Monckton because she came up with the same theory that St Mary's might have had an octagonal central spire. Thumbs up Edited by member, 17th Jan 2019 11:34 am
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