Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture

Boss

A carved ornamental projection at the junction of stone vaulting ribs or the beams of a timber roof. Initially quite simple, throughout the medieval period bosses became ever larger and more elaborately decorated.  Bosses could be carved or painted, or both. The range of decorative styles is practically unlimited; some bosses are carved with human faces, some with religious symbols, but just as frequently they could be decorated with grotesque mythological beasts or semi-pagan symbols like the Green Man.

Related: Vaulting   Green Man   Grotesque  

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