PROBLEMS IN INTERPRETING SOURCES TO THE HISTORY OF BUILDING IN GREAT POLAND IN VIEW OF THE RECENT RESEARCH ON WOODEN CHURCHES FROM THE 17TH-18TH C. (Polish title below)
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(Original title: (Problemy interpretacji zrodel do dziejów budownictwa w Wielkopolsce w swietle najnowszych badan kosciolów drewnianych z XVII-XVIII w.) One of the main weaknesses of research on Polish wooden architecture conducted in the last 150 years is an insufficiently detailed typology of timber constructions. The presently-used classification of sacred buildings is not linked with in situ architecture analyses or with the actually recognized range of historical buildings. Old churches have been classified according to the popular typology of wooden structures, established about 100 years ago, including log, post-and-log and skeleton constructions, while in fact in Great Poland only there are at least 40 churches from the 17th-18th c. which do not fit the typological scheme dominant in the Polish literature of the subject. The churches in question have a characteristic double structure of the outer walls; in most cases the carcass is surrounded with a closely adjoining skeleton. In several cases the outer skeleton was added later that the whole structure was built; in the 17th-18th c. this was a very common method of strengthening a carcass that was losing stability or structural strength. In over 30 buildings the double structure was initially planned; in some the idea is very close to or identical with the Umgebinge construction. The fact that the Umgebinde (outer skeleton) system was firmly established in church building practice in Great Poland is an important motivation for reviewing the conventional views on the origin and topography of Umgebinde architecture. The popularity of the double structure of walls (a carcass linked with a skeleton) in old wooden buildings is confirmed by written sources. Inventories and protocols of estate inspections and parish visitations, written both in Latin and in Polish, mention such structures very frequently. Their advantages and theoretical foundations were described in the oldest Polish treaty on architecture, published in the mid 17th c. Unfortunately, the typology of old wooden structures established in the literature, together with the insufficient knowledge of old carpentry terminology and of the building practices registered by old handbooks of architecture, did not facilitate a correct interpretation of such mentions. Ethnographers at most concluded (wrongly) that the structures in question were unspecified atypical solutions, resulting from 'primitive' simplifications and reductions. Archivists and historians of architecture usually simply disregarded repeated mentions such as: Ecclesia ab extra more pruthenico lateribus circumducta intra lignea constructa (1672 - a description of the church in Oporowo near Leszno) or Ecclesia lignea de fortis more pruthenico cincta (in the years 1718, 1724, 1787 - descriptions of the church in Prochy near Wielichowo). To conclude, written sources confronted with newest studies of wooden sacred buildings produce a picture of wooden architecture and Polish carpentry which is much richer and more complex that it was assumed until recently. This points to an urgent need to verify the methodology of research on old wooden buildings in Poland.
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