Braathen Dendrokronologiska Undersökningar

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Roma church, Gotland

Roma (Vol. I) parish church about 20 km SSE of Visby. The squared chancel is built in bond with the nave. The central part of the three-aisled nave (an aisle on each side of the central nave) continues above the vaults with stone walls riding on the pillars of the nave. Those walls are penetrated by relieving archs. The external high profile of the central part is impressive and has lent its shape from the basilica.

S:a Maria at Visby is the only church on Gotland which originally was built as a basilica, but that form of building is rather common on the continent, specially among the gothic cathedrals.

The tradition of building basilicas goes back to to the Roman Empire where the first known building of that kind was built in the second century B.C. It has been excavated at Pompeii and served as a town hall. Three smaller buildings were adjacent to the hall. They had an apsis extending from one wall for the seat of honour of the local lord of court and administration.

Elements of building through the centuries which are inspired from the basilica can be found in churches, where the gothic stave-shurches of Norway are examples. An other example is the roof of Lau.

The dating of the nave of Roma might give better conditions to trace the corresponding building tradition on the continent.

Scaffolding poles, stuck to the upper walls of the nave have been dated. Sample no 13 from the east wall, sample no 14 from the south wall, sample no 15 from the eastern transept at the north wall and sample no 18 from the western transept at the north wall are dated 1269. Sample no 7 from the west wall, sample no 9 from the south wall and sample no 17 from the north wall have waney edge and are dated 1270.

As seen the felling year of the trees (the winter seasons 1269 - 1270 and 1270 - 1271) do not fit into any pattern concerning the position of the pieces of wood in the walls.