Medieval Treadwheel Crane in Cathedral of Strasbourg
We visited the Cathedral of Strasbourg
The Cathedral of Strasbourg was the first cathedral of Germany (or Kingdom of Germania). Until the arrival of Louis XIV in 1681 and his minister of the war, the Marquess of Louvois that camped in the environs of Strasbourg and forced their submission to the French monarchy the 30 of September of 1681.
The Cathedral was delivered by the same Luis XIV The head of the Catholic bishopric of Strasbourg, Egon de Furstenberg. Absent from the city for almost 150 years, that way ended the period as an independent city.
Designed in Gothic style, it was built during the second half of the 13th century. Although originally planned as a Romanesque structure, in 1053 today there is only the crypt and the floor of that style. At the end of the main chapel, the decision was taken to construct the nave in the Gothic style (1250).
The walls were open with Gothic stained glass but the interior remained predominantly Romanesque. The main colonnades were Romanic style. And they also supported the arches. They were very separate. The proportions of the ship are 1: 2.5.
Medieval Treadwheel Crane – Cathedral Strasbourg
It is accessed by the side of the Cathedral, to a door that leads to a spiral staircase stone, without breaks. At the end of it before accessing the terrace on the left side you can see the Medieval Treadwheel Crane.
The same one that was used in the construction of the Cathedral. And it’s still there. It was customary to leave the cranes in their original location after completion of the work, for maintenance or repair.
Medieval Treadwheel Crane Carpenters
The Medieval treadwheel crane Cathedral of Strasbourg is made of wood, manufactured by the carpenters. Like carvers, carpenters were a relatively privileged category of craftsmen. Considered for a long time the absolute masters of construction, its prestige began to decline as early as the 11th century with the generalization of stone vaults, which concealed from view its wooden structures.
Since then, both guilds have fought, sometimes with violence, the primacy in the construction works. But they had to remain closely linked because they had no choice but to depend on one another.
The Carpenters Masters
The master carpenter directed all the works in wood, that were developed from the beginning to the end of the work. He was a very skilled technician, who could discuss with the architect the timber structures to be lifted, both permanent and temporary.
The rigging, ladders and scaffolding that would be used by masons, sculptors and glaziers to work at different heights, inside and outside the building were all made of wood.
They also built support machinery to lift stones and other materials. Wheel cranes, also called spinning “squirrels” and three-up raisers, are inside these machines.
The treadwheel crane was a piece that required a great technical skill. Perfect assemblies and combinations of forces show their relationship with naval carpentry. In regions with a strong maritime tradition, carpentry teachers shared the construction of cathedrals with work in the shipyards building ships. Both civilian and military.
The main application was the port cranes. Imitations can now be observed in different parts of Europe.
As can be seen in the photos this treadwheel crane is for two operators. While the word operators today is used to operate a mechanical crane, here is another thing. Two people, one on each side walk in synchronized form to lift a weight, to the control of a master of crane.
We have no idea of the capacity of this particular crane, but it can be said that approximately would be for about 1500 to 3000 lb, taking into account the external diameter of the wheel. This would be about 4.5 yards. For those who visit the cathedral of Strasbourg, before accessing the terrace, you can appreciate this legacy artifact of other times.
- In Google Books The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals: A Study of Medieval Vault Erection John Fitchen
- Google Books The Cathedral of Strasbourg: A Short History and Description
- See also Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany Today
- Treadwheel Crane in Beverly Minster – England
These cranes are similar to the Ancient Roman Cranes used during the empire. With very few mofifications they were used until the 19th century
Treadwheel crane Cathedral Strasbourg End
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