What Are Corbels? What Are Corbels?

Corbels are pieces of stone jutting out from a wall, used to support a structure that sits on top of it. The technique, called corbelling, has been used for centuries. A perfect example of the architectural technique has been used to support balconies and parapets.

Cultural Use

Every culture on the planet has employed the use of corbels. Ancient examples tend to be rather plain and pretty much utilitarian. However, ornate corbels have been employed by ancient cultures all throughout the Mediterranean, as well as Europe and the Orient. Many world famous structures possess examples of very ornately carved corbels that double as exquisite examples of period art, such as the Lincoln Cathedral, with the first version built in 1092. Corbels were used extensively in architecture designed and constructed during the Renaissance throughout Europe, especially in France and Italy building church cathedrals. It was a normal practice to carve corbels to resemble religious icons like angels.


Corbels act as brackets in many forms, supporting shelf or table-like structures that ornately adorn modern structures. In some instances, corbels support trough-like structures use to hide structural gutters.

Although corbels once played a large part in structural integrity, modern use is strictly limited to decorative accents.

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