Relieving lintels normally take the form of an arc situated above the real lintel, be it timber or masonry, and these are used to relieve the loading which would otherwise fall onto the lintel below. They are commonly mistaken for signs of a modified opening and can cause some pedantic, if erroneous, statements. For this reason, and because they vary in form, some examples are shown here.
The first is a dry-stone 'borie' (Figure 2.39), which has been dated as pre-Christian era and of a type which goes back to 3500 BC. Although it has a
renewed timber lintel, the relieving arch above it is probably original.
Relieving lintels are often of brick inserted into stone masonry. They do not always form so complete an arc as the ones shown in Figure 2.40, and often retain a decorative element.
They frequently conform to the general type shown in Figure 2.41. Just as with arches, adequate containment by masonry to each springing is necessary for the development of full structural potential.
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