Visitors to Winchester Cathedral are awestruck at the enormous structure. Upon entering the Cathedral, the longest nave in Britain is truly stunning. Visitors look up at the vast structural expanse in wonder. When an architect or large-scale building contractor visits, to say the least, they are overwhelmed!
Literally walking through a thousand years of history, there is a degree of amazement as to how it was possibly built and how it still stands in its entirety.
Arches so high, supported by large round pillars upwards to the majestic roof. The Cathedral has rounded Romanesque arches but has weight limitations. Pointed Gothic epicyclical arches support so much weight and are ‘held up’ via enormous pillars.
Consider for a moment the task of building such tall pillars. One large, round section; some cut to create another shape with increasing height. They have to be exactly vertical. And to this day, they still are. When applying lime water-based ‘cement’ onto a base stone and placing another very heavy stone on top, lime water cement’ squeezes out of the edges. The lowest pillars taking increasing weight and are potentially unstable pillars.
Such a structure would be at risk of collapsing.
Who on earth could consider oyster shells to be an intrinsic part of constructing a Cathedral? To prevent instability, thousands of oyster shells were added to the surfaces of pillar stones preventing seepage of lime water-based ‘cement’. They are still here a thousand years later.
Every pillar was erected in such a manner, from beneath ground level to many meters high. On a number of pillars, fragments of oyster shells are visible. Upon the Cathedral tower, oyster shells are even more obvious.
Could such a structure be built today? I am usually a positive person, but in this case, highly skeptical.