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The Strength of Masonry Arch Structures

  • Arnold W. Hendry
Chapter

Abstract

Masonry arches were in use for bridges and in buildings for many centuries. Their design, until the Seventeenth Century, was determined entirely by rules of proportion evolved by trial and error. A more scientific approach emerged with the realisation by Poleni and by Hooke that an arch, or segment of a dome, would be stable provided that the flexible cable carrying suspended weights, representing that of the structure, when inverted could be contained within the depth of the masonry. This concept was highly developed through the Nineteenth Century in terms of the line of thrust, reflecting the fact that the arch problem is primarily one of equilibrium rather than of material strength. Elastic analysis was applied to arches but the state of stress is very sensitive to small changes in conditions, for example at the abutments, so that the state of stress in an arch cannot be calculated with any great certainty. Furthermore, the stresses occurring in these structures are generally small and do not, in general, provide a useful safety criterion.

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Copyright information

© Arnold W. Hendry 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold W. Hendry
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK
  2. 2.The British Masonry SocietyUK

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