The Romanesque sculpture marks a high point of artistic production in Britain and Ireland, corresponding to the boom in high-quality building that followed the Norman Conquest in 1066, and reflecting a new set of links with mainland Europe. A good deal of this sculpture remains in parish churches and cathedrals, houses and halls, castles and museums throughout these isles, and our volunteer fieldworkers are visiting every site in Britain and Ireland to complete the project. The CRSBI is an evolving electronic archive, and when the fieldwork is complete in a few years' time, the CRSBI database is estimated to include 90,000 photographs.
The purpose of the project is to photograph and record all the surviving Romanesque sculpture, making this important aspect of the British and Irish heritage available over the Internet. A committee of experts leads a team of skilled and dedicated volunteer fieldworkers, who locate and visit sites where Romanesque sculpture survives, describing, measuring and taking photographs. The project editors convert the raw materials of their research into an electronic archive. Church plans, generously made available by the Church Plans Online project and the National Monuments Record, are included where available as an additional visual aid. The website is updated regularly; information on the current status of fieldwork completed and in progress is provided in the 'news' section on the website homepage.
The CRSBI has already established itself as an authoritative scholarly resource. Significant quantities of previously unrecorded material have come to light in the course of the project, and there are many examples of sculpture that are here being recorded, catalogued and photographed in an academic context for the first time. Concurrent with its academic importance is the project's role in raising awareness of the British Isles' rich twelfth-century heritage, helping to ensure its conservation and preservation. Much of the sculpture is exposed to the risk of wear, damage and theft. Records of the sculpture's condition are invaluable for conservators and the church and heritage bodies responsible for its protection. The east end of St John's, Chester is a case in point.