Its usage was generally decorative and most commonly it was used as a pavement, though it was used as an infill pattern in walls. Unless the elements run horizontally and vertically, it is inherently weak, since the oblique angles of the elements tend to spread the pattern horizontally under compression.
Herringbone work, particularly in stone, is also used to make firebacks in stone hearths. Acidic flue gases tend to corrode lime mortar, so a finely-set herringbone could remain intact with a minimum of mortar used. Usk Castle has several fine examples.
- King, Ross. Brunelleschi's dome: how a Renaissance genius reinvented architecture. Walker Publishing Company, 2000. (97 - 99)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Opus spicatum.|