The Arc Rampant – Amuse-bouche #9 (Dennis Aubrey)


The arc rampant, as it is known in French, is an arch in which the starting points of the arch are not the same height. They seem to be found in side aisles to support the arcade walls.

Arc rampant, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc,  Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle

Arc rampant, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle

Sometimes these arc rampants seem to be accidental, or later additions, so it took awhile before I discovered that they were intentional structures. They usually function as internal buttresses, similar to flying buttresses that appeared later in Gothic architecture.

South side aisle with arc rampant, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Nazareth, Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

South side aisle with arc rampant, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Nazareth, Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

This is a rare feature which I can think of in only a few churches off the top of my head; the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Nazareth in Vaison-la-Romaine, the Église Saint-André-de-Sorède, and the south side aisle of the Abbaye Saint Junien in Nouaillé-Maupertuis near Poitiers.

This is part of a series of posts featuring an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized appetizer to whet the appetite of diners. Each of these will explore a single interesting feature of medieval architecture or sculpture. To see other amuse-bouches, follow this link.

5 responses to “The Arc Rampant – Amuse-bouche #9 (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. How interesting. Actually one of the many things I have yet to learn from you and your wonderful observations. Thank you, Dennis

  2. This is like a missing piece of an evolution toward the flying buttress. How would one classify it? The ‘twisted arch’?

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