‘Cathedrals’ by Caitlin Dempsey

What purposes did cathedrals serve?

Cathedrals were very important to Christians as they were a place where they could worship and praise the God who they love. Cathedrals were impressive because they were so big and majestic. There are still cathedrals today, but not as many as back then. Now, there are mostly churches. Cathedrals were like large and magnificent churches which were loved dearly. Even people who may have not been Christians would go to Cathedrals to get married, or to go to a wedding. People would also go to these majestic buildings for funerals and to get baptised. The cathedrals were places where Christians would take the communion. The Communion was where you take bread and wine, representing the body and blood of Christ. Cathedrals were very popular to go into, not only to have meetings or ceremonies, but also to listen to what kings, lords or bishops and to stay inside from the cold to keep warm. Cathedrals meant a lot to Christians and people would love to go to Cathedrals for all of these reasons.

What do cathedrals look like?

Cathedrals were very large and tall buildings made out of stone. They are majestic buildings which were very noticeable. Some cathedrals were made out of brick, but those are the more modern cathedrals. Medieval cathedrals were mainly out of stone. Usually there would be a cross on the top of the building to represent Jesus’ resurrection. Cathedrals had halls inside mostly in the entry of the building. Even though a cathedral is very similar to a church, it doesn’t look very similar to a church. It is a lot larger with decoration to the stone, although some cathedrals don’t have decorations. It depends when the cathedral was made, because in the medieval times, cathedrals looked slightly different because they were made out of stone instead of brick.

Why were cathedrals so important?

Cathedrals were very important because they were buildings made for Christians to praise and worship God. Cathedrals were very tall, large buildings, so you could easily find one. In the medieval times, there were many Christians and cathedrals meant a lot to them because it was a magnificent holy place to do much more than worship God. In all, the reason why cathedrals were so important, is because they were an inclusive building to attract people who wanted a place to worship or hold an event like a wedding, baptism or a funeral.

How did medieval cathedrals change over time?

One of the main things that changed cathedrals over time was changing the arches on the cathedrals. Over time, cathedrals were eventually built to have pointed arches. The builders did this because it made cathedrals appear taller. The cathedrals’ arches would usually have a flat top. The use of pointed arches also allowed more windows or stained glasses. Cathedrals also eventually got flying buttresses which allowed the cathedrals to be taller.

When was the first cathedral built?

The first cathedral in Britain was the Canterbury Cathedral, made in 602 AD. This cathedral was built by (Saint) Augustine. The very first cathedral that was built was the Etchmiadzin Cathedral which was built in 301 AD-303 AD by Saint Gregory, the Illuminator. This cathedral is known as the oldest cathedral in the world. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral was made in Armenia. The cathedral was built after Armenia became the first official Christian country. In 480, the Armenian Sassanian governor ordered the cathedral to be replaced with a cruciform church.


In conclusion, the cathedrals were majestic buildings, similar to a church which people loved to go into, to praise and worship God. They were large buildings which would hold ceremonies as well as funerals, weddings and baptisms. Cathedrals were very important because they were a holy place for the Christians to worship. Cathedrals looked very large and magnificent. They were either made out of stone or brick. The stone or brick would usually be decorated to attract people. Over time, cathedrals got pointed arches and flying buttresses which would allow the buildings to be taller and the pointed arches would allow more windows. The first cathedral was the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, built in 301 AD-303 AD.







Medieval Cathedrals by Matthew Conibear

Why did medieval people build these fantastic structures?

The Cathedral in a town or city and the ‘grandness’ of it showed the wealth of that area. The more extravagant cathedrals were built in the bigger cities to display their success. Cathedrals made a useful meeting place for townspeople. Announcements and public events were often held at Cathedrals. Cathedrals were often the largest buildings in a town or city, even larger than castles. This reflected the importance of the religion and the church to the medieval people.

How were these buildings constructed?

Medieval workers built Cathedrals with primitive rules, multiple risks and at a massive cost. The Cathedrals were paid for by the towns-people who had to give regular payments to the Roman Catholic Church. The people worked hard as they recognised that all the work was to glorify God.

To build a Cathedral you needed and Architect and many master craftsmen. Some of these craftsmen included a master quarryman, a master sculptor, a master mason, a master blacksmith, a master glass maker, a master stone cutter, a master mortar maker, a master builder, a master carpenter and a master roofer. Each of these masters employed a workforce of their own. Local townspeople or young apprentices working on being masters in a few years would do the actual labour. Once the architect and the chapter (now days board) had decided on a plan the foundation was laid. While up to seven and a half meters of foundation were being laid down, the master quarryman and his employees/apprentices worked in the quarry to produce stone bricks for building. These stones were then used by the builders (under the guidance of the architect and the master builder) to construct the mighty cathedrals of the Medieval times

Who was the leader of the church in medieval times (who had the most power in the church)?

The chief pastor in the medieval times was the bishop. The bishop was based in one cathedral but oversaw the administration of other churches in his area. The other duties of a bishop were, baptising people, marrying couples, settled disputes and listened to confessions. The Archbishop was a bishop who oversaw more than just his surrounding area, but several areas roughly equal in size. In later years the bishop of Rome became particularly powerful, they named him ‘father’ or ‘Pope’. From this time onwards it was the Popes duty to appoint bishops and archbishops.

How often did townspeople use the Cathedral, and what for?

The cathedral was essentially a very large Christian church where the bishop and his office were based. The medieval people went to church more often than we do nowadays; this is probably because the church was a safe haven for them. It allowed people to meet up and socialise, many feasts were also held in the cathedrals and it served as a gathering place that met the religious, social and safety needs of the people. As for actual church or mass however most medieval townspeople went to services on Sundays just like us.

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QUESTION 1 – How did cathedral designs change over time during the Middle Ages?

In the Middle Ages, cathedral designs changed over time. The first cathedrals in the Middle Ages were based on the looks of the old Roman basilica. The first churches looked like these basilicas. Because the churches were built in the style of the old Roman basilica, over time cathedrals were built in the Romanesque style, cathedrals were a lot bigger than the churches. The people started to build in Gothic style because the Romanesque style cost so much to build because of the high need of stone blocks. Stone blocks were a lot cheaper than everything else. The difference between these two types of cathedrals was that Romanesque had a round arch, but Gothic had a pointed arch.

QUESTION 2 – When was the first cathedral built?

The Echmiadzin Cathedral is the first cathedral to be built. It is located in Armenia. This cathedral was one of the most important cathedral to the people in the middle ages.

QUESTION 3 – How long did it take to build a cathedral in the middle ages?

In the middle ages, it would’ve taken a long time to build a cathedral with the limitations of their tools. It took between 25 – 600 years to build a cathedral. Obviously if it took 600 years to build it was more detailed than other cathedrals. These days people don’t build many cathedrals at all.

QUESTION 4 – Why did people in the medieval times love the cathedrals so much, why were they so important?

People didn’t build cathedrals in towns or villages, but they were built in cities because they’re important. Cathedrals were so important to people in the middle ages because their religion was so important to them. Cathedrals is where people come to worship god and if their religion was so important why not go to a cathedral where the main purpose of the building is to worship God.







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The diorama is made how it is because some of the first cathedrals weren’t as big as they are now and had limied resourses. There is 2 pillars in the front for a big opening like cathedrals had in the Middle Ages. The structures were very square but very tall.