THE pointed arch is not known in existing remains of architecture (outside of Assyrian vaulted drains and ruins of the upper Nile) before the time of the Arab buildings (Figs. 112-116). There is no doubt that it was through contact with these that its form became familiar to the crusaders as well as to architects of Spain and Southern Italy. The pointed arch is found in occasional use in the later Romanesque, and we find here another instance of the transitions by which the new style was reached, but as it appears in these cases it was used without any distinct system of Gothic development. In the case of the Gothic style it is clear that its adoption was not due to imitation of Saracenic art or to any decorative preference. A decorative preference might appear to be indicated by its constant decorative use, for the round arch is not found in the Gothic period, excepting in Italy, but the original explanation is to be sought in the weight of the vaulted ceilings. The decorative use followed the construction.
The view of the ruin of Melrose Abbey (Fig. 137) is the best illustration on this head, because its peculiar and unusual exhibition of a section of the actual construction shows the weight of masonry which presses on the arch. The weight is greater here than was usually the case, but the illustration serves its purpose. This will consequently lead us to consider the difficulties and problems which beset the constructors of the round-arch Romanesque vaultings. We