Gothic tracery

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Gothic tracery is used in architecture for gothic windows with the framework elements being what one would call tracery. There were two types of tracery starting with plate tracery and then bar tracery after that.[1] Plate tracery began as single holes that were circular in stone slabs which soon became replaced with trefoils, quatrefoils, and more that had much more detailed.[2] Bar tracery is the supports that hold the pieces of clear glass together which make up the framework of the window. The supports are carved slabs of stones also known as mullions. This method is the most commonly thought of when dealing with Gothic tracery.[2] In order to construct these traceries proportionately it is important to use the basis of geometry to help create correct angles for the design.[3]

This window has gothic tracery design incorporated in it. The person that created the design to this window used the rose tracery design from gothic tracery.


This type of architecture was seen as the French style in the 12th century and was originally from France. Gothic Architecture only lasted for about 4 years before advancing to something different. It wasn't until about the 19th century that Gothic Architecture reemerged and then was called the Gothic Revival.[3] Gothic tracery was used in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France which was in the form of rose windows.The beginning use of Gothic Architecture started as combinations of circular arcs or complete circles and straight lines. It was not until later on that curves were introduced into Gothic tracery in architecture.[2]

This image shows the tiles in Gloucester Cathedral that uses rounded quadrifoils in the design.

Rounded quadrifoils[edit]

In Gothic tracery, rounded quadrifoils have been used quite a bit in modern industrial ornament which is used to embellish different parts of a building or certain objects. This is formed with the use of squares as the base and then constructing circles tangent to each side of the square in the center of the side as well as tangent to each of the circle's sides. This type of construction is used generously in Gothic buildings.[1] For instance, rounded quadrifoils were used in tiled pavements like the ones in the Gloucester Cathedral or the in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, England. It was also common in the work of the Chinese and Japanese.[1]

Rounded multifoils[edit]

Rounded multifoils are found in different parts of gothic buildings such as circular windows and pointed windows that have circular lights in it. These designs can have rings ranging from seven to eleven small circles. They are often seen in England but have become quite popular in France for French Gothic architecture.[1] This design has been used since about around medieval time in tiles that Gothic building use. The tile pavement used in Yorkshire, England for the Jervaulx Abbey had rings of tangents circles of six and twelve inside of another given circle.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sykes, Mabel (1994). A sourcebook of problems for geometry : based upon industrial design and architectural ornament. Palo Alto, CA: Dale Seymour Publications. pp. 161–177. OCLC 31334043.
  2. ^ a b c Phillips, E. C. (August 1926). "Some Applications of Mathematics to Architecture: Gothic Tracery Curves". The American Mathematical Monthly. 33 (7): 361–368. doi:10.2307/2298643. ISSN 0002-9890. JSTOR 2298643.
  3. ^ a b "The Geometry of Gothic Arcitecture" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-12-06.