The Work of the Carpenters

Pieter Bruegel, The Tower of Babel, c.1563

There are three areas of activity for the carpenters:

  1. Working with the masons: The carpenters built scaffolding to provide access and temporary support; tying the upper piers with wooden (later, iron) ties to prevent them from being pushed over by the arches; wooden formwork for the vaults; lifting gear. These activities are all depicted in Pieter Bruegel's Tower of Babel.
  2. The main roof: The roof of Amiens Cathedral had been thought to belong to the period after the fire which destroyed the central steeple in 1528. However, recent analysis of the growth rings in the roof beams (dendrochronology) has suggested a date between around 1280 and 1305. The roof embodies revolutionary new design features.
  3. The central steeple: Known as the great golden steeple (grand clocher doré), the old (14th c.) steeple was destroyed by fire on July 15, 1528, and rebuilt remarkably quickly under the direction of the carpenter Simon Taneau from Beauvais and a local carpenter named Louis Cordon (or Cardon), who, it seems, had presented a novel plan intended to avoid over-burdening the crossing arches. This is the last surviving Gothic steeple in France and marks the end of the Life of the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Amiens.