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Engineering a Cathedral

To celebrate the 9th centenary of the commencement of construction of the present cathedral, a conference on ‘Engineering a cathedral’ was held in Durham in September. The formal papers, ranging from accounts of the history to analyses of structural behaviour and discussions of design and maintenance, were preprinted with a foreword by the Bishop’. There were also less formal opening and closing remarks by Dr Rowland Mainstone and the Bishop. Published here is a summary of Dr Mainstone’s remarks: I have been asked to look at the wider engineering background. The papers most concerned with structural behaviour analyse it - or envisage its analysis - in terms of our current theoretic understanding. This understanding, so necessary to most current design, is very largely the product of the past 300 years. If nothing like it existed 900 years ago, what, if anything, was there in its place? Gravity acted then as now and was no more forgiving. The artist could imagine and paint a new Jerusalem almost as he pleased. But the builder could not if his work was to stand. R.J. Mainstone

Author(s): Mainstone, R J

Keywords: cathedrals;history;builders;durham cathedral;11th century;construction work;construction industry