In the year 1000, fear of an impending end of the world associated Last Judgement receded, and a great church-building campaign began, especially in Italy and in France. In the lapidary expression of Raoul Glaber, an early 11th c. Cluniac monk, ‘the whole world was shaking itself free, shrugging off the burden of the past, and cloaking itself everywhere in a white mantle of churches’. It was the beginning of the age of the Romanesque.

It was also the great age of pilgrimage, notably that to Compostela, and many of these churches remain along the pilgrimage routes, like Aulnay (1) and St Hilaire at Melle (2), between Poitiers and SaintJean-dAAngély. The abbey of Conques (3) in the Rouergue also had its own pilgrimage to the shrine of Ste Foy (St Faith). In the foothills of the central Pyrenees is the basilica of Saint-Just de Valcabrère (4), whose high altar was consecrated in 1200, with the cathedral of St Bertrand de Comminges just over a mile away in the background.

Further reading: Andre Verassel, Les églises romanes: 1200 édi~ces en France et en Belgique, ISBN 978- 2801105559; Peter Strafford, Romanesque Churches of France: A Traveller’s Guide, ISBN 978- 1900357241.