Rouen Cathedral is an imposing sample of Gothic architecture. The first cathedral was built in 396 by Bishop Victricius. This was destroyed by the invading Normans, who replaced it with a larger cathedral with a wooden vault. Consecrated in 1063 in the presence of William the Conqueror, all that remains of this building is the crypt beneath the choir. Rouen Cathedral was rebuilt in 1145 by Bishop Hugues d'Amiens based on the new Gothic style he admired at Saint-Denis Basilica in Paris. After devastating fire in 1200 destroyed all but the nave arcades, the Saint-Romain tower and the left portal, reconstruction began immediately. The choir and remainder of the cathedral were built in the more mature Gothic style of the 13th century, completed around 1250.
The new Lady chapel was built in 1360. The spire was blown down in 1353, choir windows were enlarged in 1430, the upper storey of the north-west tower was added in 1477, gable of the north transept built in 1478. Some more were built in the Late gothic style, these include the last storey of Saint Romain's tower (15th century), butter tower, main porch of the front and the two storeys of the lantern tower (16th century). Construction of the south-west tower began in 1485 and was built in 1507. The Butter Tower was erected in the early 16th century. The reconstruction of the central portal and the west front begun in 1509 and finished in 1530.
The original gothic spire suffered a fire in 1514, nevertheless the project of a stone spire was denied and a wooden construction covered with gold-plated plumb was begun in 1515, a parapet was added in 1580. In the late 16th century the cathedral was badly damaged during the French Wars of Religion: the Calvinists damaged much of the furniture, tombs, stained-glass windows and statuary. The cathedral was again struck by lightning in 1625 and 1642, then damaged by a hurricane in 1683, the wood-work of the choir burnt in 1727 and the bell broke in 1786.
In the 18th century, the state (government) nationalized the building and sold some of its furniture and statues to make money and the chapel fences were melted down to make guns to support the wars of the French Republic.The Renaissance spire was destroyed by lightning in 1822. The cathedral was named the tallest building (the lantern tower with the cast iron spire of the 19th century) in the world (151 m) from 1876 to 1880. In the 20th century, during World War II, the cathedral was bombed in April 1944. Seven bombs fell on the building, narrowly missing destroying a key pillar of the lantern tower, but damaging much of the south aisle and destroying two rose windows. One of the bombs did not explode. A second bombing (before the Normandy Landings in June 1944) burned the oldest tower, called the North Tower. During the fire the bells melted, leaving molten remains on the floor. In 1999, during a violent wind storm, a copper-clad wooden turret, which weighed 26 tons, fell into the church and damaged the choir.
Rouen Cathedral contains a tomb of Richard the Lionheart which contained his heart. His bowels were probably buried within the church of the Chateau of Châlus-Chabrol in the Limousin. It was from the walls of the Chateau of Châlus-Chabrol that the crossbow bolt was fired, which led to his death once the wound became septic. His corporeal remains were buried next to his father at Fontevraud Abbey near Chinon and Saumur, France. Richard's effigy is on top of the tomb, and his name is inscribed in Latin on the side.
The Cathedral also contains the tomb of Rollo, one of Richard's ancestors, the founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy.
Other famous graves contained the black marble tomb of John Plantagenet or John Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, who is considered to be Joan of Arc's murderer. He became a canon priest of the cathedral after her death. His original tomb was destroyed by the Calvinists in the 16th century but there remains a commemorative plaque.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.