La Croix-sur-Ourcq
(Aisne, France)
Surveyed: 1980-83, 2015
This is an experimental section where John James is attempting to identify the carvers though the use of common templates and/or a recognisable manners of carving. Such a large-scale analysis of all the capitals in these buildings has not been attempted before. As an ongoing enterprise that is still in its infancy, we seek your input. John believes this has the potential to increase our understanding of how they worked and to provide a more solid basis for dating than we have had.
Apse with dado and a flat east end, can be followed in the lowest courses where the same weathered courses around the east wall of the apse and the south wall. This included the dado and ended at the crossing pier. In the east wall these courses continue to the underside of the continuous drip mould. The crossing pier on the NE corner seems part of this same phase. The pilaster under the eastern crossing capital was added onto the wall and suggests this was a separate campaign, possibly in the next phase as the dimensions of the pilaster match those in the nave.
The nave piers, aisle capitals, the crossing pilasters and arcade arches on both sides have similar stonework and dimensions; with intentions for aisles and transepts; the setback just two courses above the arches at the eastern end suggests where this campaign stopped, just over the arcade arches; the floor slopes to the west; at the west end of nave the wall finishes with an irregular junction, and it was the later west wall that closed the space.
The crossing capitals and the arch between them were laid after the arcade arches; the arches are large and the seating may have been stabilised with a few more courses along the nave walls, apparently to just below the level of the clerestory window sills.
The nave clerestory wall to north and south completed to cornice.
Later still, grooves were cut into the exterior of the south wall that suggests an intention for an aisle, perhaps in timber.
All openings on the south side at both levels were subsequently blocked, and this may have protected the outside capitals where the wear is less than on the inside.
North crossing external wall at aisle level with round-arch doorway could have been next, though now it is blocked.
Tower base (possibly intended as a chapel) and room above butted onto the side of the apse.
North arm added with tracery that has since been replaced.
Rebuilt east wall, probably demolishing the entire wall above the level of the drip mould to make room for the tracery windows; at the same time the north wall was rebuilt with an large opening into the apse, and rib vaults; there is a clear joint where the north-east buttress on the east meets the one facing south.
Nave north aisle wall western two bays in two stages with an enlargement of the north aisle window.
West end of nave filled in with masonry with square openings, tied in with irregular junctions into the nave walls.

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