Norman Architecture *Top 5 Buildings

Norman architecture refers to the style of architecture employed by the Normans from the 10th century onward. Normans were descendants of Vikings who settled in Normandy in modern-day France from the 10th century onward.

Normans in Normandy Flag of Normandy

Over subsequent centuries, Normans would go on to attack and invade different parts of northern and Western Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Sicily. It was here that the Normans left an indelible mark through an architecture that was unique and mixed the Viking heritage of the Normans with the local cultural influences.

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Norman Clothing

The architectural style which evolved at the hands of Normans was eventually given the title of Romanesque architecture, a style that eventually impacted the evolution of architecture in Europe at large.

A problem with the term “Norman architecture” is that the Normans ruled over a huge part of Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. And the architectural style they evolved in each region was distinct in its own right, often reflecting local influences as well.

Cathedral of Cefalu Sicily - Medieval Architecture

The Cefalu Cathedral in Sicily dates back to 1091

Norman Architecture Facts

  • Norman architecture was recognizable by its use of Romanesque architectural features such as the rounded arch and the use of stone keeps.
  • Norman architecture originated came from Normans who conquered England, Ireland, Scotland, southern Italy, Sicily, and Normandy from the 10th century onward.
  • Norman architecture dates from the 10th century until the 12th century.
  • Norman architecture was influenced by the Viking heritage of the Normans as well as the Roman legacy of Western Europe.
  • Norman architecture can be seen in modern-day England, Sicily, southern Italy, Normandy, Ireland, and Scotland.

Norman Architecture in England

In England, Norman architecture is most prominently represented in the castles dating back to the Norman period. Following the invasion of England in 1066, Normans went on to fortify their conquest by building a series of castles, first in motte-and-bailey and later in stone structures.

Norman Conquest of England

Many of the stone castles built by Normans are extant in England. Most notable among these are Rochester Castle, Oxford Castle, Norwich Castle, and the Tower of London.

Rochester Castle Medieval Castle History Norman Castle

Rochester Castle Medieval Norman Castle

Norman Architecture in Southern Italy

In southern Italy as well, the most widespread form of Norman architecture was castles, often built by the Norman nobles to cement their hold on the conquered territories. Alongside castles and fortifications, Normans also built a large number of ecclesiastical buildings in southern Italy.

1280px Palais des Normands

Some of these ecclesiastical buildings are extant and the Viking heritage of the Normans as well as elements of Roman architecture can be seen in them.

Norman Architecture in Sicily

In the 11th century, Normans were able to seize the control of Sicily from Muslims, effectively outdoing the Moors and the Byzantine Empire in invading the island. It was here that some of the most iconic and beautiful examples of Norman architecture can be seen today.

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Norman architecture in Sicily evolved along distinct lines, accepting influences from Byzantine architecture as well as Moorish architecture. In the extant Norman buildings in Sicily, these various cultural influences are very visible.

Top five examples of Norman architecture:

  1. Durham Cathedral in England dates back to 1093.
  2. Dunfermline Abbey in Dunfermline, Scotland dates back to 1070.
  3. Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo, Italy was reconstructed in Norman style in 1132.
  4. The Cefalu Cathedral in Sicily dates back to 1091.
  5. The Cathedral of Catania in Sicily dates back to 1094.

We hope you enjoyed this article on Norman architecture. If you would like to learn more about the amazing Norman people please see more articles on the Normans in our Medieval history periods sections or see the Links in-bedded in this article that will take you to interesting sources on the Normans.