As you discover the architecture of York, you
may encounter some industry terms with which you aren't
familiar. Don't fret! Below is a list of
architectural terms used on Virtual York: An Architectural
Experience. Also note that you can click on hyperlinked
terms in the various descriptions. This will launch a new
window with the applicable definition.
Arch A curved span over an opening,
sometimes decorative, sometimes a structural support.
Architrave Bottom horizontal band of an
entablature, found below the frieze.
Balustrade A grouping of balusters with
handrail; that is, a low railing supported by small vertical
posts of stone or wood (balusters).
Battlement A specialized wall with high
and low parapets, originally built for military purposes to
provide both protection and an opening to fire arrows.
Bracket A supporting element frequently
found below the eave. Brackets can be both functional and
Cartouche An ornamental frame or oval,
frequently featuring a scroll or figure.
Column A column is a vertical element,
usually rounded and most often a structural support. Greek and
Roman architecture is categorized by Order, though columns have
been used throughout the world by many different cultures in
many different times. If the column is physically touching an
adjacent wall, or partially built into it, it is said to be
Composite The Composite Order is a
hybrid of the Ionic and Corinthian Orders, and its capital (top
of column) typically features scrolls and acanthus leaves.
Conical Roof A cone-shaped roof.
Corbel A bracket or block built into a
wall to support weight. It can be of any material, though in
York the feature is mostly found in brick or stone. A row of
corbels is known as a corbel table, which usually occurs
below roof eaves and can actually be both decorative and
Corinthian The Corinthian Order is by
far the most ornate, and easily distinguished by the acanthus
leaves on the capital (top of column).
Cornerstone A special building block
featuring an inscription, usually a significant date.
Cornice In general use, the projection
at the top of a wall, below the eaves. Specifically, the top
horizontal band of an entablature, found above the frieze.
Course A decorative horizontal band
found on an exterior wall. Also known as a stringcourse, this
feature is typically stone or brick.
Crenellations Having battlements.
Cupola An architectural feature usually
crowning a roof, turret, or dome.
Dentil An ornamental tooth-like block,
frequently in a series (like a molding) and found under a
Dome A roof or ceiling of hemispherical
Doric The Doric Order features a fluted,
tapered column with a capital (top of the column) comprising a
square abacus and spreading echinus.
Dormer An architectural feature
projecting from a sloping roof and usually containing a
Eave The lower portion of a roof
projecting over a wall.
Entablature Horizontal bands
(architrave, frieze, and cornice) above the structural supports
in a building (e.g., columns).
Faηade The front of a building, or
other side with significant architectural merit.
Fanlight A semicircular window with
ribbed bars, usually over a door or another window.
Finial The top of a spire or pinnacle;
Fleche French term for spire, though it
also refers specifically to a small slender spire.
Florentine Relating to Florence, Italy.
Frequently used to reference the Florence Cathedral.
Fluted Series of vertical grooves, most
frequently found in a column.
Foliate Leaf shaped.
Fresco A wall or ceiling painting,
typically on plaster.
Frieze Central horizontal band of an
entablature, found below the cornice and above the architrave.
Gable Roof A sloping roof which
resembles an "A." Gable roofs are also sometimes
generically referred to as "pitched roofs."
Gambrel Roof A roof with two slopes
on either side, with the lower slope having a steeper pitch than
the upper slope.
Gargoyle Originally a decorative
waterspout featuring a lion or grotesque creature.
Glazed Brick Another term for enameled
brick, it refers to a "glassy" or lustrous surface.
Half-Timber Construction method
utilizing timber frames for internal and external walls, with
brick and plaster infill between the timbers.
Hipped Roof A roof with all sides
sloping upward, typically at a uniform pitch. Frequently found
over a rectangular structure. When found over a square
structure, it becomes a pyramidal roof.
Hood Mold Also known as a dripstone, a
hood mold projects above a door, window, or arch. It is both
decorative and serves a purposeto divert rain. In
modern usage, a hood mold is simply referred to as a lintel.
Ionic The Ionic Order is easily
distinguished by the scrolls (a.k.a., volutes) at the top of the
column, known as the capital.
Keystone A wedge-shaped piece, usually
masonry, at the top of an arch, locking all the other pieces in
place. However, it is also a decorative piece found above
Mansard Roof A roof with two slopes on
all sides; the lower slope is steeper (almost vertical) than the
upper slope (almost horizontal).
Modillion Ornamental bracket or block
under the cornice. Similar to a dentil, only larger.
Ogee A pointed arch with reversed curve
near the apex.
Order Greek and Roman influenced columns
are classified into various orders, including Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. Also, the
"Colossal" or "Giant" Order is sometimes
used to refer to multi-story columns.
Oriel A bay window projecting from an
upper-story and usually supported by a bracket or corbel.
Parapet A low wall along a roofline or
balcony. Serves both as protection from falling as well as
decorative purposes. A series of alternating low and high
parapets is known as a battlement.
Pediment A triangular gable found atop a
portico, doorway, or window; typically features two gentle
Pilaster A usually decorative, shallow
rectangular column built into a wall.
Pinnacle An ornamental feature of
pyramidal or conical shape, frequently topped by a finial.
Pitched Roof A roof with a slope.
Portico An entrance structure (e.g., a
porch) or covered walkway utilizing columns.
Pyramidal Roof A roof shaped like a
pyramid, typically found atop towers.
Quoin Brick or stone corner pieces
differing in size, color, shape, and/or material from the
Rosette A decorative element with a
floral or foliate design.
Roundel A round decorative object or
Rusticated Masonry feature referring to
deep recessed joints between stones, usually creating horizontal
Sidelight A side window, as in a window
on either side of a door.
Spire A visual element frequently found
in ecclesiastical architecture. Usually a pyramidal or conical
element "reaching to the heavens."
Swag (Festoon) A carved ornamental
decoration like garland, typically on a buildings faηade.
Terra-Cotta Fired clay. The Italian term
means "baked earth." It is somewhat hollow, and thus
frequently applied to a brick facing.
Tower A tall structure either
freestanding or attached to a building.
Transom A horizontal bar over a window
or door, or between a window and door.
Turret A small tower, frequently
ornamental, beginning above the ground level.
Tuscan The Tuscan Order is the most
basic of all columns, and is plain and unfluted.
Tympanum The recessed triangular area
within a pediment.
Watertable A projecting stringcourse to
Widows Walk Also known as a Captains
Walk, it is a railed observation walk.