The barrel-vault, groined (or four-part vault), and dome vaults were the three types of vaults employed. The barrel-vault was by far the most common type, used for churches, monasteries, and cathedrals from the 11th century until the 15th century. It was made out of timber, with thick walls and a flat ceiling covered with barrels or trusses held up by wooden pillars. The groined vault was used mainly in large halls and open spaces where the barrel vault would not fit. It was also used as an upper floor over a series of chambers or rooms with barrel vaults. Finally, the dome vault was used for more modern buildings after 1220. It had the highest roof profile of all vaults, which allowed more light into the space.
Barrel vaults were easy to build and inexpensive. They were also very strong because there were no supporting beams under the vaulted ceiling; instead, it was supported only by wall ties and columns. This left the barrel vault well suited for larger structures like churches and monasteries that required greater load-bearing capacity but did not need to be particularly delicate or refined in appearance. Although they were widely used during the Romanesque period, barrel vaults began to give way to groined vaults around 1100.
A vault is a structural element in building construction that consists of an arrangement of arches, commonly forming a ceiling or roof. The fundamental barrel shape, which originated in ancient Egypt and the Middle East, is essentially a continuous succession of arches deep enough to fill a three-dimensional space. Although vaults are often thought of as two-dimensional structures, they can be made from any number of arcs stacked one on top of another. There are several types of barrel vaults including flat, semicircular, and elliptical.
Barrel vaults are used extensively in architecture for their decorative effect and because of their strong supporting function. They are particularly useful in large spaces where floor joists would be difficult to fit underneath. They can also provide protection from heavy loads falling onto a flooring material such as wood. The word "vault" comes from the Latin word "vallis", meaning "valley" or "walled garden". In medieval times, barrel vaults were popular in gardens where they could be used to protect plants from wind and rain.
In Christian churches, barrel vaults are used primarily for their decorative effect. They can also be used to protect parishioners from rain, snow, and heat during services by providing shade from the sun or heat from cold winter days.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Vault The fundamental barrel shape, which originated in ancient Egypt and the Middle East, is essentially a continuous succession of arches deep enough to fill a three-dimensional space. A key feature of this shape is that it can be filled with air or water without leaking. Modern vaults are used in buildings such as churches, temples, and mosques to create rooms or chambers beneath the surface of the building's floor or ground level. They are also used as storage facilities for grain, coal, oil, and other large items. Public vaults provide secure storage for valuables such as jewels and coins. They often have a door or gate leading into them from a public area of the building. Private vaults are used by individuals or companies to store valuable documents, artwork, or materials.
Vaulting was first introduced into architecture in Egypt around 3000 B.C. It was later adopted in Mesopotamia and Syria and then spread throughout Europe and the Middle East. Its use became more widespread after the 10th century when the technology existed to build arched stone bridges and roofs. Today, vaulted ceilings are found in many buildings, including churches, universities, museums, and commercial spaces. They provide much-needed additional room for storage while allowing light and ventilation into lower-level areas. Covered walkways, called verandahs, were once part of most major American city streets.