The arches of the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral.

Church of St Foy, Conques

View of the nave of the church of St. Foy at Conques, contemporary with Durham Cathedral. The simple vaults used limited the builders' capacity to span a large width, and therefore the nave it very narrow. It was the use of pointed arches and rib vaults at Durham Cathedral that enabled the construction of a wide nave, and paved the way for the soaring buildings that reached their zenith with Gothic architecture.

View of the nave of the church of St Foy, Conques, France. Constructed between 1087 and 1107 (for more information about the building see Paradox Place).

The nave of this church is almost contemporary with that of Durham Cathedral. It is covered with a simple stone vault, and due to the structural difficulties of building stone vaults, the nave is extremely narrow. It was the successful use of the pointed arches and more complex ribbed vaults at Durham Cathedral for the first time that enabled the vaults to span a much greater width, and achieve greater height. This paved the way for gothic architecture, making the soaring later churches and cathedrals of Europe possible.