Experts Discover Notre Dame is First Gothic Cathedral to Use Iron Staples

The fire that caused severe damage to Notre Dame Cathedral, a symbol of Paris and one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, in 2019 was nothing short of a disaster. Still, the event did allow experts to further study the cathedral during its reconstruction and make some interesting findings.

One of those findings, which was published in a PLOS One earlier this month, is that Notre Dame builders have used iron staples to fortify the cathedral’s structure. This makes it the first Gothic cathedral to use this technique.

The iron staples, around 20 inches long, were found as part of the construction of Notre-Dame’s tribunes, walls, and nave aisles. Using advanced methods that included carbon dating of the metal, the experts found that the iron staples were made midway through the 12th century, meaning they were introduced in the early part of the cathedral’s construction.

“This is the first building of its kind in which we see this,” lead author Maxime L’Héritier, a history professor at Paris 8 University, explained. “This shows [that the builders] at the time were trying to experiment with new forms of construction.”

The construction of Notre Dame Cathedral started in 1163 and was completed in 1260. Since then, there have been various modifications to the building throughout the centuries. The ongoing reconstruction after the fire is expected to continue for several more years, with the cathedral set to be reopened for the public in late 2024.

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