Brickwork through the ages< Back to Blog

When you’re working on a building site, do you ever stop and think about just how much that humble brick in your hands has achieved?

Probably not!

As one of mankind’s oldest and most durable building materials, we tend to take it for granted, forgetting the fact that brick has been used in so many creative ways across the globe over thousands of years.

From the Colosseum in Rome to the Great Wall of China, there are countless examples of famous brick-built structures to be found down the history line. Here’s just a few you may (or may not) have come across:


The Great Ziggurat of Al-Untesh-Naprisha ‘Choga Zanbil’, Iran, 1260 – 1235 BC

Similar to pyramids, Ziggurats are huge stepped structures that were made of mud bricks baked in the sun. So as to be close the heavens, the ziggurat features a temple at the very top.


Trajan’s Market, Rome, 100-110

A predecessor to the ‘shopping centre’, this brick-built structure was built to house both shops and living spaces. At the time of building, the Roman Empire was using mobile brick kilns to spread the use of clay bricks and made Roman brickmakers stamp their product (so as to ensure liability for quality could be traced).


The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, 537

Under orders of the Emperor Justinian, this structure was constructed by renowned architects of the time, Isidore of Milet and Anthemios of Tralles and completed in just 5 years. The Hagia Sophia means ‘Holy Wisdom’.


The Temples of Bagan, Burma 1044-1077

This formerly Pagan, ancient city in Mandalay, features over 2000 stupas (pagodas) and temples! With many examples of relic or tomb shaped domes throughout, these temples were designed to be reminiscent of the popular styles of the era.



St Pancras, London, 1867 – 1876

For a renowned example of gothic style Victorian architecture, look no further than St Pancras station. With plans originally laid out by Midlands Railway Consulting Engineer, William Henry Barlow, the finished design (by George Gilbert Scott) was chosen from 11 proposals.

Monadnock Building, Chicago, 1889 – 1891

This 16-storey building was the tallest iron frame commercial building with a load-bearing masonry external wall ever to be constructed. Using a purple/brown brick, the walls are 1.8metre thick

at the bottom and 46cm thick at the top.


The British Library, London, 1997

Using 10 million clay bricks, this London structure was the largest public building to be constructed in the UK during the 20th century. The library is now home to around 25 million books!



There are so many more examples we could give but here’s the main message.

When you lay a brick, even if you’re just playing your part in building a ‘regular’ housing development, remember the long tradition that you’re part of. Many of today’s brick styles offer durability of 500 years or more and nowadays there are numerous examples of innovative designs being incorporated into traditional building work.

Using brick can mean creating something that can really stand the test of time. Are you working on anything that you think will leave a legacy?