Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Secrets of the Castle

Kate and I have just finished watching Series 1 of the above marvellous BBC documentary. It aired in Great Britain in November and December 2014, I am unaware as to whether there is to be a Series 2. 

The castle referred to is Guedelon Castle in Burgundy, France, and it is being built as an archaeological project over 25 years using only techniques, tools and materials from the 13th century. The television series stars archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold, and historian Ruth Goodman. The programs show what kind of skills and crafts were needed to build a castle in the 1200’s – roughly the year 1246… around tea-time, as it says on the BBC website.  The same age that was burning witches at the stake was also doing amazing things in construction. 

The series points out that castles were introduced to Britain from France by the Norman Conquest, the French being the gun castle builders at the time, hence the French connection.

It left Kate and I wanting to see more.

It emphasises that anything that was needed or wanted had to be made, there was no convenient Bunnings nearby in the 13th century. Want a piece of rope? A box? Some bowls or plates? See the ropemaker, the carpenter, the potter. Want to lift heavy objects great heights? Make scaffolding that rises as the towers rise and make a wooden crane powered by people walking in large treadwheels. Masons, blacksmiths, artists, quarrymen, cooks . . . all interacting. I could go on but I suggest you watch it and be fascinated. 

Some pics:

Some pics of what Guedelon Castle will look like when finished, scheduled for 2023:

A model from the series, used at the time to demonstrate to the lord what he was getting and designed to allow modification - note that the towers etc are made of movable pieces.  13th century CAD precursor.

C'est magnifique!!

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