To me, the cathedrals and ruined abbeys number among the most fascinating of Europe’s material achievements. Gazing at these tremendous structures, every one a feat of engineering and a work of art, I unceasingly wondered where those ancient builders got the inspired vision, technical know-how and the means to conceive, design, plan, build and run such places. They tower up, soar above, arch over, and engulf the mind. I was always but a cockroach beside a Grecian urn. Modern universities and sports stadia are no better — bland anonymity at best. A 1 000 years hence, people will gaze in wonder at few of today’s buildings — should any survive — when the doubly ancient façades and halls of Winchester, Christ Church and the like will still inspire awe in pilgrims from all over the world.