I surveyed a bell tower to determine the condition of the masonry. I noticed several arches within the field of the masonry walls in the interior of the tower. These arches often occurred several feet above the window openings.
What is the purpose of these arches?
Arches embedded within masonry walls were common in older structures, such as church bell towers. They were referred to as safety arches, relieving arches, or discharging arches.
They were installed in the backup wythes above smaller arched openings to divert compressive loads, thus relieving the lower arches of some of the gravity loads.