1. Arch the depth of which exceeds the span, i.e. an elongated arch covering a space, or a structure composed of various curved elements in various combinations, built of brick, concrete, stone, etc., and sometimes of plaster and wood to suggest something heavier. It is primarily a ceiling over a space, but may also be a roof, and it may carry a floor or roof. As with an arch, it is constructed so that the stones or other materials of which it is composed support and keep each other in their places. Any volume covered by means of a vault or voussure is said to be vaulted, while a system of vaults on a ceiling is called vaulting. A vault bay is defined by transverse ribs.
Types of vault include:annular: barrel-vault springing from two concentric walls. See annular;barrel, cylindrical, tunnel, or wagon: simplest variety of vault, really an elongated or continuous arch like half a cylinder (i.e. with a semicircular section and a uniform concave soffit), spanning the distance between parallel walls or other supports. It can also be segmental in section, or with a profile like a half-ellipse;cloister: see domical-vault below;cross: see groin-vault below;cylindrical: see barrel above;domical: rises from a polygonal or square base, and is not a true dome, having curved surfaces (cells, severies, or webs) meeting at precise lines (groins). Also called a cloister-vault (USA);fan: late-Gothic form of the Perpendicular style, only known in England during the Middle Ages (though widely copied later), and consists of inverted half-cones or funnel-shapes with concave sides, (like trumpet-bells), their rims touching at the top of the vault and Fan-vault (cloister of Gloucester Cathedral (late C14)). their visible surfaces covered with blind panel-tracery rising from a capital or corbel and diverging like the folds of a fan over the entire surface of the distorted cones. The areas between the circular tops of the fans are flat and form concavesided lozenge-shapes. At King's College Chapel, Cambridge (1508–15), there are large pendent bosses in the centres of the distorted lozenges, and at Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey (1503–c.1512-strictly speaking an ingenious fantasy suggesting the form of fan-vaulting, but actually with ribs only used decoratively, as the vault is essentially of the groin type), the distorted lozenges are covered with blind panel-tracery and there are pendants under the points of each cone as well as in the centres of the lozenges;groin: formed by the intersection at 90° of two identical barrel-vaults (also called cross-vaults) creating groins where they join (see previous page):handkerchief: as sail see dome;hyperbolic parabola; see hyperbolic paraboloid;lierne: ribbed vault with some ribs (tertiaries or liernes) not running from one of the main springing-points, but from rib to rib, usually joined to them at bosses;net: rib-vault with the ribs forming a net of distorted lozenges all over the surface of the vault, common in late-Gothic work in Central Europe;parabolic: vault of parabolic section, resembling a cone cut along a line parallel to its surface angle, usually constructed of a light shell of reinforced concrete;ploughshare: with wall-ribs springing from points higher than those of the diagonal ribs (therefore called a stilted vault) so that more light can be admitted from a clearstorey window, thus distorted and twisted;quadripartite: bay divided by diagonal and transverse ribs into four cells or webs;rampant: barrel-vault with one springing-line higher than the other;rib: with ribs framing the webs and concealing the groins;sail: see dome;sexpartite: bay resembling that of a quadripartite vault, but further divided by an extra transverse rib so that there are six cells instead of four;shell: thin self-supporting structure. See shell;stellar: with ribs, including liernes (ribs running from rib to rib) and tiercerons (rib rising from one of the main springing-points to a position on the ridge-rib), forming a star-shaped pattern of ribs;stilted: see ploughshare above;surbased: with a section less than a semicircle (i.e. a segment);surmounted: with a section greater than a semicircle;tierceron: see stellar above;tripartite: on a triangular plan with three parts;tunnel: see barrel above;wagon: see barrel above.
2. Room or enclosed space of any kind covered by a vault.
3. Any strong place or place of safety.
4. Burial-chamber or crypt, vaulted or not.
W. Papworth (1892);
J. Parker (1850);
Sturgis et al. (1901–2);
Jane Turner (1996);
vault1 / vôlt/ • n. 1. a roof in the form of an arch or a series of arches, typical of churches and other large, formal buildings. ∎ poetic/lit. a thing resembling an arched roof, esp. the sky: the vault of heaven. ∎ Anat. the arched roof of a cavity, esp. that of the skull: the cranial vault. 2. a large room or chamber used for storage, esp. an underground one. ∎ a secure room in a bank in which valuables are stored. ∎ a chamber beneath a church or in a graveyard used for burials. • v. [tr.] [usu. as adj.] (vaulted) provide (a building or room) with an arched roof or roofs: a vaulted arcade. ∎ make (a roof) in the form of a vault: there was a high ceiling, vaulted with cut slate. vault2 • v. [intr.] leap or spring while supporting or propelling oneself with one or both hands or with the help of a pole: he vaulted over the gate. ∎ [tr.] jump over (an obstacle) in such a way: Ryker vaulted the barrier. • n. an act of vaulting. DERIVATIVES: vault·er n.
So vault vb. XIV. — OF. vouter (mod. voûter). The sp. with l appeared XV (after later OF. usage).