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The eleventh century saw the first return to monumental stone sculpture aulnay-ls-church-from-southin Europe since the end of the Roman Empire nearly six hundred years previously.

It was a time of  widespread church construction and it coincided with the great age of European pilgrimage culture. A close association was formed between the roads to Compostela and the development of the style of building and sculpture known as the Romanesque.

Churches were not merely practicalmoissac-christ-tetramorph2 structures but buildings of immense symbolic  significance.

In the Romanesque period this symbolic nature extended itself into the sculpture which filled the strategic points of the church. Great theophanic visions filled the space above the entrance.

The space inside the building had allegorical significance and the stone carved imagery contained a complex iconography derived from a variety of sources and which today is often difficult to decipher. bessuejouls-14The sculpture of the pilgrimage roads to Santiago de Compostela contains a repeated reference to the Book of Revelation and other Apocalyptic Biblical writing which speaks of a strong obsession  with eschatological ideas and a preoccupation with the coming of the End of the World.


  1. Hi I took some photos recently of the church in Civray it has a Romanesque front similar to, but smaller, than the one in Poitiers. I also have a photo of this on my blog. The church at Melle looks stunning, is that Romanesque, I think so. I will be getting some photos of that soon, it is a pity about the smell from the chemiocal works in Melle though.

    All the best


    • Hi Alan, Thanks for your comment. I know of the church at Civray although I have yet to visit. The Poitou region is full of Romanesque churches with their very distinctive facades – like the one at Notre-Dame-de-Poitiers which is one of the best examples. I’m not sure but it sounds as though you may visit the region on a regular basis, if you do then its worth checking them out. Melle, in fact boasts three twelfth century churches. Not to be missed is the church at Aulnay de Saintonge.

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