In 2016 I was honoured to be asked to give a public lecture on ‘Cathedrals and Symmetry’ as part of the 10th International Symmetry Congress Festival held in Adelaide, South Australia. The invitation came as a surprise: I had been retired from my career in mathematics for 14 years, and still feel that I made only a minimal contribution to the field of symmetry. On the other hand, from 2012 on I had been travelling the world photographing cathedrals, so it seemed like an interesting exercise to put the two topics together. My talk was given in December 2016 in St Peter’s Cathedral – an ideal venue!

In preparation for this talk, I came across an excellent animation by Professor Michael Schneider of the California College of the Arts, of the rose window in the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York. This animation explored the symmetry and mathematical structure of the window, and inspired me to revisit the ‘animated gif’.

Finally, it has led to the creation of this website which looks at the symmetry and structure of various rose windows. Ironically, in the end I used my ‘Freeway’ program rather than the animated gif, as with this I found I could include greater viewer interaction.

Nevertheless, I am grateful to Michael for the initial inspiration of this site, and for his willing help from time to time. Michael’s profile can be found at:

and his website at:

Paul Scott 1/2017