Sandstone in Polish Medieval Architecture and its Petrographical and Physical Properties

Sandstone in Polish Medieval Architecture and its Petrographical and Physical Properties

By Małgorzata Kasprzak

Published Online (2004)

Introduction: For hundreds years sandstone was a popular material used for the monumental building. However, it was used not only for building but also for creating architectural elements. The use of this stone was especially subject to its esthetic merits and mechanical properties resulting from the mineral composition. These features were particularly appreciated in the Middle Ages, when the possibilities of stone-cutting were more limited than nowadays. As an example differently cut sandstone surface from the Middle Ages can be compared with the modern polished building stone plates. Additionally it is worth to draw attention to an architectural element e.g. a sculpture, which gains extra esthetic merits, if the material it is built of, is homogenous like e.g. marble or monomineral sandstone.

This work is based on the research carried out on a building material of the four Romanesque churches in the region of Great Poland, where the sandstone was widely used. The churches are located in Kościelec Kaliski, Kościelna Wieś, Kotłów and Kalisz and date from the XII and XIII century. The distance between each of them does not exceed 50 km.

The main aim of the work is to indicate the outcrops of the sandstones characterized by properties and a mineral composition similar to the sandstone used for building the churches studied. It will enable a better selection of the building material for the future renovation and reconstruction works of these objects (reconstruction works would be carried out only for the church in Kalisz). The first stage of the work concerned a determination of the most probable historical source of sandstone transport. For this purpose several sandstone samples were collected in the churches as well as in the former quarries in the area near Konin (in the eastern part of the region, approx. 40 km from the nearest church in Kościelec Kaliski) and Ostrzeszów (in southern part of the region, approx. 20 km south of the nearest church in Kotłów).

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