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Dundee University - The Urban Conservation Glossary
Category: Architecture and Buildings > Urban conservation
Date & country: 16/01/2008, UK
Words: 876


Quoins
stones larger or better shaped, than those of which a wall is composed, used to form the corners of walls or door and window openings. Laid in an arrangement of headers and stretchers on alternate courses, this gives strength to the build, and allows the facework of the walling to tooth in...

Racking back
the practice of building up the ends of brick walls to a height of several courses above the last complete course, which provides a very good guide to filling in the courses between.

Rafter
a timber sloping from the ridge to the wall head and supporting the roof coverings. An angle rafter supports hip ends. (illustration).

Raggle - Raglet
groove cut in masonry to receive a sheet of glass, lead etc. Sometimes also referred to as a 'raglet'.

Rails
the horizontal members of a door between panels. From the top downwards in a six panelled door these would be, toprail (sometimes referred to as the head), frieze rail, locking rail (sometimes known as a belt rail), bottom rail.

Raked
angled or inclined, a term often used to describe a sloping wall. Racking is building brickwork in steps, rather than course by course.

Rampart
a thick wall behind the ditch, of earth, stone etc which is the main defensive wall of a fortification.

Rat or Vermin courses
a projecting course of masonry, often stone slates, preventing rats gaining access to the nesting boxes in doocots/dovecotes.

Rat trap
a construction of headers and stretchers in which the bricks used are laid on edge, as a result a cavity is formed - the rat trap.

Ray
a fissue radiating from the centre of the heartwood outwards, In which protein is stored. See wood.

Re-entrant angle
an internal angle. Architectural features are often described as such ie re-entrant porch. (Illustration)

Rebate
the part of the door concealed by the doorstop.

Reconstituted stone
a stone substitute, which as the name implies will contain a large percentage of stone particles.

Reconstruction
generally regarded as a process limited to the reproduction of fabric, the original form of which is known and understood, in a manner which can be identified as being new work.

Rectified photography
a cheaper but less accurate process than photogrammetry, where photos are taken of a facade to produce an accurate image. Only works properly when the facade is flat, and the camera is held exactly parallel to it. This is seldom achievable, and usually the process involve...

Redressing
or, dressing back. In masonry, cutting back to a new surface and retooling.

Reeding
decoration consisting of series of convex mouldings - the opposite of fluting.

Refuge
in bridges, a recess for pedestrians projecting from the carriageway or deck, usually placed over the cutwaters.

Regency
the period (1810 - 1820) during which the later King George IV governed the country as Prince Regent. Characterised by the bow front. see Georgian

Registers
metal plate frame within a fireplace opening, into which the grate is set.

Regrating
a term used to describe the redressing of salvaged or old stone.

Relieving - discharging arch
an arch built into a wall, so as to protect a lintel spanning an opening immediately below it. Also used at the back of fireplaces to allow easy replacement of fire damaged stone. Sometimes referred to as a discharging arch.

Renaissance
(rebirth) A French term for a cultural movement that is mainly associated with Italy from around the late 1300s to the early 1600s. In addition to new directions in art, literature and science, following the discovery of the writings of Vitruvius, it heralded the reintroduction of classical...

Render-Rendering
a term used to describe any durable, protective coating applied to an external wall. Renders are not intended to be decorative as such, and should not be confused with plasters such as stucco which are applied with the intention of imitating stone. See harl Rendering is the accurate po...

Repairs notice
a notice which can be served on the owner of a listed building in poor condition, specifying works which must be undertaken, and a timescale for their completion. If the notice is not complied with, it can be used as a forerunner to compulsory purchase. An interesting and informative Study of...

Reredos
a decorative screen situated to the rear of the altar. See Church Design.

Restoration
the alteration of a buildings structure or fabric to return it to the state or condition it was in at a particular point in its history. Such work is often conjectural. see conservation, preservation

Retaining wall - revetment
a wall which retains a mass of earth, rock etc. The ground level will therefore be higher at one side than the other. Also referred to as a revetment.

Retentions
an amount, usually 5-10% held back from the sum due to a contractor, for payment at a later date. The amount will be specified in the conditions of contract. Retentions are usually released on the basis of half at the issue of the certificate of practical completion, the remainder at the ...

Returns
a term applied to decoration or detail such as a cornice which for visual effect turns a corner to travel for only a short distance on a plainer elevation.

Reveal
the inward plane of a door or window opening between the edge of the external wall and the window or door frame, in effect the inner portion of the jamb that is exposed.

Rhone
(Scottish) a gutter carrying rainwater, usually half-round.

Rhyzomorphs
thick strands produced by fungi eg Serpula lacrymans, which can conduct nutrients and moisture between areas of the organism. It is these strands, which, on the case of S. lacrymans can be up to 6mm thick, and can be found travelling across and through a variety of non woody materials, which ...

Rib
the projecting band on a vault ceiling, usually structural, can be decorative.

Ridge
the line formed where two sides of a sloping or pitched roof meet. The ridge piece, a main timber running along the apex of the roof.

Ridge roll
a tightly tied bundle of thatching material, laid along the ridge, to give an edge to the final course of thatch and to provide a base for a ridge cap.

Rigg
the long narrow property or burgage plot fronting onto the main street which was the normal unit of ownership in the Scottish medieval and early modern town. The rigg could be divided into foreland, innerland and backland, with the main buildings on or near the frontage, and workshops and gar...

Rise
vertical height between springing line and underside of keystone. See arch. (Illustration)

Riser
the height of an individual step. See stair.

Riven
a natural finish to stone or slate, achieved by splitting along the bed.

Rockfaced
stonework dressed and built in such a way as to look natural.

Rococo
a decorative style of art and architecture often characterised by 'shell-shapes', became the final, and most flamboyant, phase of the baroque.

Roll moulding
a plain semicircular moulding replacing the arris on the margins around doors or windows.

Romanesque
architectural style that dominated in Europe during 10th - 12th centuries, preceded gothic. Characterised by the use of the round arch, and massive walls and piers. Durham Cathedral is Britain's best known example.

Rood
a large crucifix (christ on the cross) usually over the entrance to the chancel. A rood tower or spire is one situated over the crossing. See Church Design.

Roof
the exterior top covering of a building, the internal covering being the ceiling. Roofs are usually described in one of two ways, either by external shape eg, gambrel roof, or by the principal structural component eg hammer beam roof. When a roof is described by exterior shape, it implies ...

Root House
where roots, stumps and gnarled branches were used to form arbours and garden houses. Represents one aspect of the Victorian fascination with rustic work. Also name given to building where potatoes and turnips were stored.

Rose Garden
traditionally geometric beds laid out exclusively for the growing, harvesting and enjoyment of roses in isolation.

Rotunda
a circular building or room, implies a domed roof.

Rough racking
the consolidation of wall heads in works of preservation, where the top of the wall is covered in mortar but the stones are left visible. The real skill in this is to ensure that water can run off or be wind blown dry, and that no ponding occurs. (Illustration).

Rough Racking Illustrations
Rough Racking (Detail)

Royal Fine Art Commission
an independent body founded in 1924 to advise on all building which may have an adverse affect on their environment.

Royal Peculiar
a place of worship which comes under the personal jurisdiction of the Queen, most date back to Anglo-Saxon times when places of worship could owe allegiance directly to the sovereign and were not therefore subject to any form of bishop or archbishop jurisdiction. A ...

RSJ
rolled steel joist, usually a vertical plate with a top and bottom flange, but they can come in a variety of sections.

Rubbers
large bricks which are then rubbed to size, giving a very precise, smooth finish.

Rubble - Ragwork
a term used to describe any build where the stones are not fully dressed. Can vary from stones which are wholly natural in shape to stones which have been roughly squared, can be completely random or coursed. The more cutting, the more costly the stone, which tends to denigrate the art of ...

Rubblemania
the name given to the Victorian fashion of stripping off the harling to reveal the stonework, which they considered a more attractive and up-market finish. (Illustration) see rubble

Rubblemania Illustration
South Street St Andrews. A good example of 'Rubblemania', all buildings of this type in the town were originally harled. Note the crowsteps, pantiled (Detail) roof and easing courses (Detail), and the new stone indents at the window margins (Detail). see rubble

Running level
a building is said to be constructed to a running level, when it follows the slope of the ground, rather than cutting into, or across it.

Rustic Work
hugely popular, Victorian style of decorative and 'architectural' design in which garden features were constructed in a rustic manner or using rustic materials such as unfinished wood, bark, reeds and even moss. It also refers to items that were made to look as if they had been made using th...

Rustication - Sunk Joints
treatment of masonry in a way which emphasises particular parts of a building. This can take the form of a natural looking roughness as the term implies, which gives an impression of strength and is frequently used at the base of buildings, a practice common during the Renaissance and in Ge...

Rybat
(Scottish) a dressed stone at the side of a door or window. Rybats are described as inband or outband depending on which way the tail of the stone is used, along the face of the wall - outband, or through the wall - inband.

Sacrificial
a material which is used or positioned in such a way that it will deliberately absorb damage, and will also be more easily replaced than the material or detail it is protecting. Examples would include lime render or limewash protecting the stonework below or, an additional lead flashing s...

Saddle Bars
horizontal metal bars positoned between mullions to reinforce leaded glazing, often used to refer to any set of bars which form a protective grill for glazing.

Saddle Stone
The stone at the apex of a gable is usually referred to as the saddle stone.

Saddled Joints
sloping of the top surface of a cornice or any projecting member away from the wall face so that water drains away from it rather than into the joints. A saddle cope is a cope which slopes left and right from a high centre.

Sage
(Scottish) a rectangular metal bar with a spike at right angles at each end, which can be hammered into sarking boards. Used by slaters to dress slates while on a roof. Also referred to as an 'edge' or 'top edge'.

Saixe
a slaters knife, used for dressing slates. Usually a heavy blade, off set from its handle, with a 2'-3' spike on its top edge, used for putting nail holes in the slates. The blade is sharpened only on one side, as a result of which this is a tool in which ...

Salient
a line of defence which points towards the attackers in an arrow shape. The opposite of re-entrant. See fortification.

Sally port
a discreet exit which allows the defenders to 'sally forth' and engage the attackers. See fortification.

Sarking
roofing boards to which slates etc are nailed. Nearly always used where slates are laid in diminishing courses.

Sarsens
sandstone boulders lying on or near the surface, found mainly in the downs and heaths of southern England. They are the remains of a much more continuous layer which has been eroded away. Difficult to trim to a workable shape, they were used manly in prehistoric times in the construction of l...

Sash
a glazed frame, can be sliding or side hung. (from the french, chassis - a frame) For sash bars, see astragal

Sasines
(Scottish) a form of ceremony in which the fuar took posession of his property. A register of sasines has been continuously kept since 1671 - a huge and invaluable research archive, now kept in the National Monuments Record.

SAVE Britain`s Heritage
known universally as SAVE and founded in 1975 (the year of EAHY) it exists to campaign for the preservation and imaginative re-use of all types of historic buildings. It has produced numerous and very good publications on churches, farm steadings, industrial buildings, country houses etc and ...

Sawing
logs can be sawn into boards or planks in two basic ways, either by cutting straight through from one side to the other, known as plain or flat sawn, or to cut in a radial direction where the rings meet the board at an angle of more than 45 degrees. Plain sawn timber is more pr...

Scabbled
stonework which has been roughly faced with a pick or chisel to a specification. see stugged

Scagliola
a composite material imitating marble. Used in internal decoration.

Scallop
ornament carved in the form of a shell, often above doorways. (Illustration)

Scantlings
a much used term which properly refers to small timbers of non-standard size. Also used to describe the dimensions of a timber in width and breadth, and, the small half-round pieces left over after sawing.

Scarcement
a flat plain ledge set in a wall. While they were often built in to, for example carry the ends of floor joists, often their purpose in older buildings has become obscure and is a source of puzzlement. (Illustration)

Scarf joint
a joint in which two pieces of timber are united to form a continuous length, with no increase in dimension at the joint, usually achieved by a simple lap, but can take many sophisticated forms, such as the bridle scarf and the more complex half-scarfs. The lightening scarf where, as the ...

Schedule of rates
a list of works activities usually priced at a rate per unit for example, a price might be included for building in common brick at so much per square metre. see contract.

Scots Baronial
a style of architecture, popular in victorian Scotland which made a particular feature of complex roof lines, with bold chimneys, crow steps, dormers, round towers etc. With its origins in medieval and 16th century building, it represented a search for a national style, which was echoed i...

Scottish bond
one row headers to five of stretchers. See brick/brickwork.

Screed
a level finish usually mortar, applied to a floor or stair, often forming the base for a better finish eg tiles.

Scrim
any mesh-like material eg wire or coarse jute, used as a reinforcing base, usually for a plaster coat.

Sea Captain's House Illustrations
Interior woodwork. Note the reeded architrave surrounding the door, and in particular, the thought given to the design of the top piece. Note also, the manner in which the door panels are articulated with beading. - see Sea Captain's House - Case Study.

Seasoning
seasoning is the process of drying timber which contains a great deal of water when growing. It is dried mainly, to minimise shrinkage and to make it more resistant to fungal attack, but it also makes it lighter and easier to handle, better for painting etc. Seasoning is quite ...

Secondary lead
lead which has been recycled.

Section
a view of a building, cut on a vertical plane to reveal internal details.

Semi-arch
an arch where only one part of its span is complete as for example in a flying buttress. (Illustration)

Sequence of trades
the order in which building trades undertake their work. Traditional sequences such as the 'common arrangement' are followed where possible, but they are not always applicable in conservation work. see contract.

Serpentine
snake shape, often used to describe winding wall or hedge. Also a type of green marble.

Setts
square blocks, usually of granite or whin but sometimes of hardwood for silence, forming a street surface. Setts were set on edge, close together, and they tapered slightly towards the bottom. Sides were never quite smooth, and laying them to achieve a tight joint, is a very skillful busines...

Sgraffito
the technique of applying decoration to buildings by inscribing the finishing coat of a render to reveal the darker colour of the coat below. Sgraffito is Italian for 'scratches', and the process is sometimes refered to rather disparagingly as 'scratch work'. The term is the origin of the word...

Shafted Chimneys
chimneys in which the flue continued beyond the stack as a shaft usually square, often set diagonally, circular or octagonal and sometimes decoratively treated, eg with a twist. They are a particular feature of tudor architecture.

Shakes
splits along a ray in a piece of timber. They do not usually affect the strength of the material but can cause distortion, particularly if the timber suddenly becomes wet. Cup shakes are splits separating the annual rings.

Sham Castle
a mock or replica castle often erected in an C18th landscape. Usually well made in traditional materials using proper building techniques. It is now often difficult to tell the difference between derelict sham castles and mock Gothic ruins.

Sharp sand
a sand which is sharp to the touch, and as a result, binds well in mortar.