In architecture a corbel is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry any superincumbent weight.
As the Quadrangle was built, much use was made of elaborately carved stone corbels, both inside the Great Hall and parts of the former Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall and the Professorial Board Room) as well as outside in the Clock Tower and cloister.
- Corbels in the Great Hall - bearing arms of some British universities.
- Corbels in the Clock Tower
- Corbels in MacLaurin Hall - various animals bearing the arms of nations whose universities were affiliated with the University.
- Corbels in the Professorial Board Room - portrait heads of famous poets, scientists and mathematicians.
- Corbels in the cloisters - strange animals (most with wings), birds and floral motifs.
Information is from "Stained Glass and Stone" by Bertha McKenzie.
Photos are courtesy of the University Secretariat unless otherwise indicated. Click on images for enlargement.
The stone corbels supporting the roof beams in the Great Hall bear the arms of some British universities.
Above from left: Roof beams in the Great Hall, photo, copyright Ted Sealey; and the University of Sydney's coat of arms on a corbel.
Above from left: Detail of the coat of arms on two of the stone corbels, the second bearing the arms of the University of Melbourne.
Above from left: The shield from the arms of Durham University and the arms of Cambridge University.
Plain carved corbels support the wooden ceiling in the Clock Tower's main entrance.
Stone corbels of various animals support the hammerbeam roof in MacLaurin Hall and are emblazoned with copper shields with the arms of nations whose universities were affiliated with the University in 1909.
Above: Stone corbels supporting the hammerbeam roof.
Above from left: An animal and a boar support copper shields of Japan and Germany.
Above from left: A bald eagle supports the crest of the USA and a lion supports India's crest.
Above from left: A chicken and a lion support the crests of France and Italy.
Above from left: A lion supports the crest of New Zealand and a walrus supports Norway's crest.
Above from left: A reindeer supports Sweden's crest.
The corbels supporting the eight main roof timbers in the Professorial Board Room are portrait heads of famous poets, scientists and mathematicians, each carrying an emblem representative of their field of study and expressing the theme of the continuation of the Greek cultural tradition through the arts and sciences of Britain.
- Archimedes - Greek mathematician and engineer. Emblems - a sphere in its cylinder and a torch.
- Charles Darwin (1809-1882) - naturalist. Emblems - a moth and moth larvae.
- Herodotus (c484 - c425 BC) - Greek historian. Emblem - a scroll.
- Homer - Greek epic poet. The emblems are from the Iliad - Nestor's cup and three Mycenean daggers.
- Lord Lister (1827-1912) - surgeon. Emblem - a surgeon's scalpel.
- Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) - mathematician, physicist, astronomer. Emblems - an apple and stars of the solar system.
- William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - dramatist and poet. Emblems - parchment and a book.
- James Watt (1736-1819) - inventor of the modern condensing steam engine. Emblems - a cylinder and piston.
The builders were emphasising, as in the Great Hall, that the European traditions of scholarship and learning were being continued in the southern hemisphere.
Above from left: The corbels supporting main roof timbers in the Professorial Board Room, and the portrait head of Joseph Lister.
Above clockwise: The portrait heads of James Watt, Homer and William Shakespeare.
Above from left: The protrait heads of Sir Isaac Newton, Herodotus, Archimedes and Charles Darwin.
Roof beams in the cloisters are supported by stone corbels which include strange animals (most with wings), birds and floral motifs.
Above from left: Roof beams in the cloisters supported by corbels, and a monster corbel.