Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches - Tympanum Definition

History and Architecture

Tympanum

Loosely, the area between an arch and the springing line of the arch. Most commonly used to describe the area above a door and the arch that supports the doorway opening. During the late Saxon and Norman period, tympanums were often highly decorated with carvings, and these carvings are sometimes the most decorated area of the entire church! A common theme for carved tympanum decoration was Christ in Majesty, a figure of Christ seated within a vertical lezenge. Early Norman tympanums are often decorated with diamond or diaper pattern carving.

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