Skip to main content



Romanesque is a 19th-century term applied to the style of architecture and art which originated in Germany in the 10th century and, being imported by the Normans into England after the Conquest in 1066, spread rapidly throughout Europe. For this reason the term Norman rather than Romanesque is used in Britain.

The word was coined because the church architecture it describes was likened to that of the ancient Romans. Round arches were carried on piers and churches were basilican in plan. They were massive, stocky structures, and their facades often had elaborate sculptural decorations on their facades which had a purpose and function as part of the Church's teaching. The interiors were decorated with frescoes with a similarly didactic intention. The style endured until the 13th century, to be replaced by Gothic.