Last edited 04 Jan 2022

Boss (medieval architecture)


In medieval architecture, a boss is a stone or timber knob or protrusion, most commonly found in ceilings at the location of keystones in vaulting, expressing the junction between the intersecting ribs. Their original purpose was to conceal the complex mitred joints.

They are typically intricately carved with decorative features such as foliage, heraldic devices, animals, faces, and so on.

Bosses are commonly found in the medieval architecture of England rather than France, which is believed to be due to the greater height of French naves. By the 14th century, very ornate bosses were carved that depicting a series of narrative scenes. In the 15th century, fan vaulting was developed with long, pendant-like bosses.

Famous examples of bosses can be found in Westminster Abbey, London.


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