Pinnacles are typically made of stone and predominantly used for ornamental purposes, providing vertical emphasis breaking up hard outlines. In the case of some buildings, such as the Milan Duomo, they are topped with statues.
They can also serve a secondary structural purpose, crowning the piers of flying buttresses, where, being very heavy and often rectified with lead, they improve the stability of the buttresses, helping to counteract the lateral thrust of the vault, and shifting it downwards to the foundations.
Simple pinnacles were originally used on Romanesque churches, often as a means of distracting from the often abrupt transition from a square tower to a polygonal spire.
They became more common in Gothic architecture, where they were used in a much more decorative way, found at every major corner of a building, as well as on flanked gables and decorated parapets and buttresses.
Notable examples are to be found on Notre Dame in Paris, and the 24 m (80 ft) pinnacles of Reims Cathedral.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
A Wikipedia entry for the IHBC, drafted by IHBC Chair James Caird, has now been published.
FREE application support MATE sessions: Nottingham (25/04), Belfast (31/05), Glasgow (7/06)
Project management for the Wordsworth Trust, closing 30/04, £40,000 contract.
The Heritage Alliance (THA) has published the first ever report on the independent heritage sector’s impact overseas, led by past THA CEO, Kate Pugh.
A new £27 million scheme is open for applicants to help improve England’s waterways, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The new two-year £1.8m scheme is to be piloted with expert advisors working across the urban and rural areas of Manchester and Suffolk.