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Author Topic: Awesome images of a modern recreation of a castle  (Read 1830 times)

hgjs

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Awesome images of a modern recreation of a castle
« on: September 13, 2009, 06:34:10 PM »
I found these images on another site that requires registration.  I thought it was really cool.

Quote from: dralasite
A little backstory first: 12 years ago, some french people wanted to try a large scale archeological experiment: building a castle using medieval technics .

After many troubles finding a site and enough starting money, they finally begun the construction, scheduled to take 25 years before completion.

The first time I went there, the castle was exactly 3 stones high. :D
Since then I went back nearly every year.

The website, for more information, can be found here:
http://www.guedelon.fr/en/

These days the castle is still mostly unfinished but is a touristic success and is financially self sufficient, they even managed to hire more people.

Obviously, this is a very ambitious work and it's quite impressive to see what they have done so far. As an archeological experiment, they try to stick to medieval technics as much as possible, except for some specific cases:
- security: masons wear modern hard hats (camouflaged under a straw hat), stone cutter wear protective goggles and the scaffoldings are subjected to modern security standards (the goal is not to test medieval wounds!)
- archeological interest: the hearth foundations have been brought with modern trucks, because spending a full year moving dirt with wheelbarrows wasn't of much interest for anyone. Once done any modern construction device got banned
- some material had to be bought from modern factories: quicklime is dangerous to produce and store, so they buy it from "outside" already hydrated to avoid accidents (remember that scene in "Fight Club"? Now imagine a truckload of that stuff lying around with tourists and kids running around). Iron is also bought from outside, it would be possible to extract it on site but far too time and ressource consuming, unfortunately.

Here is the map of the future castle:

(main gate at the south, chapel in the NW tower, dungeon is the NE tower and the living quarters are in the square building)

Here is a recent picture of the castle:

As you can see, the south wall and towers are barely began, they try to build first the living quaters, dungeon and chapel. More details later.

The construction site itself is in an old stone quarry, surrounded by a forest. The local stone is hard enough to provide the main building material, there are enough trees to provide contruction wood and clay is easy to find for tiles and such:
STONES! AND TREES!

MUD? CLAY, YAY!


I wanted to make a thread or posts about this castle since a long time and I have a truckload of pictures. I guess that the subject might interest some people here and since it might get quite image-heavy I preferred to create a separate thread rather than clog the regular picture thread.
i will, of course, post only a fraction of the photos I have, so if someone would like to see more of a specific subject, don't hesitate to ask! :)
The vast majority of the pictures have been taken by my GF, with a Canon EOS 450D and a very tiny number by myself with the same camera.

One important advice for the rest of the visit:
BE CAREFULL WHERE YOU STEP, SECURITY IS QUITE HARSH HERE! :eek:

Yep, that's me in the pillory, how could I know I wasn't supposed to loot the dungeon? It's a DUNGEON godammit! :mad:


(Like the original, this will be split up over several posts.)
 

hgjs

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Awesome images of a modern recreation of a castle
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2009, 06:34:26 PM »
Cont.

Quote from: dralasite
One of the first non-stone work they built was the wooden bridge:

Another view of the bridge

This first work was very challenging for them but the result is really nice. :)
As you can see, it's a fixed bridge, since in the chronology of the castle, drawbridges are not used (or known?) in the area. In a couple years, the technology will become "available" and that bridge converted into a drawbridge. There are archeological evidence of the very same process happening in historical castles, so they will have some clues on how to do that.

Defensively speaking, the main entrance is a weak point, since the bridge allows to cross the moat and get directly into the castle. A massive door will stop possible attackers while arrow slits on the flanking towers will allow guards to shoot them from a secure position. A better solution would be to have a drawbridge but, as I hinted previously, that technology is not yet possible at the time that castle was supposedly built.
Notice that the corner SE and SW towers are jutting, so they also have a line of fire against people on the bridge.

The backdoor:

You may have noticed on the main map, there is a little passage leading outside, right behind the living quarters. It would look like a severe defensive weakpoint, but in fact it's quite secure.
First you have to see that the castle will be surrounded by a moat full of  thorny bush (water couldn't be used here). The external door would be a massive oak one, studed with metal (making axe attack useless). While it's possible to break it with some kind of ram, the noise will alert the guards who will have a very nice line of attack from behind the attackers, through a arrow slit.
If the attackers manage to break the door, they see this:

 A narrow and steep stair, very awkward to use when you are carrying your armor and weapons. Oh, do you see that light at the top of the stair? That's another arrow slit, so if you get inside you will STILL get shot at. Notice the door? Well, you can't because it's in the side of wall, so it's not possible to ram it, you can only try to hack at it while guards are busy shooting at you or poking you with pointy things. If you are a really persistent attacker and finally break the door, you are not much better: there is a second sturdy door less than a meter behind that one, with a hole in the ceiling, right other your head (it's called a murder hole, used to drop stone or unpleasant liquids on attackers).
Behind taht door? The main court, where guards will have ample time to prepare a sharp and pointy welcome party. :)
The beauty ot it? 2 or 3 guards are more than enough to protect that entry and kill a large number of attackers without much risk or effort.
 

hgjs

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Awesome images of a modern recreation of a castle
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2009, 06:36:07 PM »
Cont.

Quote from: dralasite
Suddenly, a chicken challenges you!
Are you man enough to save the castle?



There are various farm animals around the castle, either in pens or roaming around. More on that later. :D

Quote from: dralasite
The wall:


As you can see on that partially constructed wall, only the outside part of the stones properly smoother and cut. The inside of the wall is just random rough stones with mortar.
There are several reasons for that:
- time (and money). Cutting a stone on all sides and smooth it is easily a day worth of work for one stone cutter. One stone. Now count the stones visible on both sides on this picture and imagine how many there must be in the whole castle. It would take forever to construct walls entirely made of properly cut stones (and cost a fortune!). The number of really well smoothed stones depends on the fortune of the lord: a wealthy one will show off by having really smooth external walls. A lesser noble will have really smooth walls only in the living quarters.
- defense: a wall made entirely of square stone blocks is worse: on impact from a thrown boulder, the shock would propagate more easily. Here the inside "rubble" will act as some kind of buffer to absorb impact.
- it's also quicker for the masons to build and it uses the random rocks from quarry work, so it cost mostly the price of the mortar.

BTW, a smooth outer wall isn't only to impede climbing and look pretty, it also makes the work of siege machines harder. A boulder thrown at a wall will have a good chance of just "ricochetting" and not transfering the full impact to the wall structure.
For the same reason, round towers are far better than square ones: it's a lot more difficult to score a frontal hit on a round tower than on a square one.
 

hgjs

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Awesome images of a modern recreation of a castle
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2009, 06:36:18 PM »
Cont.


Quote from: dralasite
The Dungeon:


Here it's a big damn tower with thicker walls and the lord appartment inside.
Older castles had their dungeons in the middle of the inside court. People noticed that it took a large place in that court and , most importantly, it was useless defensively unless the outer wall was breached.
This kind of castle replaced one of the corner tower with the dungeon. This way, the dungeon wasn't in the way anymore and played an active role in the defense. Notice that the dungeon (and the other towers as well) is jutting from the wall, the geometrical center of the tower is a bit offset outward. Because of that, arrow slits get a nice line of fire grazing the outer wall and thus in possible invaders. It's a way to avoid blind spots in defense.

Another view of the dungeon:

As you can see on this picture, at the base of the dungeon (and also of the other towers and outer walls), there is a slight slope, instead of being vertical like the upper part.
Like many other aspect of castles, this serves several purposes:
- stability: obviously, a wider base makes the wall stronger.
- if you drop a stone from the top of the wall, it will ricochet on that slope and get more chance of impacting invaders.

Where is the loot? DAMMIT!

This is a view of the ground floor of the dungeon. There are several point of interest here:
- notice the arrow slit, wide on the inside, narrow on the outside, it also allowed some light in with not too much draft and no chance of an intruder going through. We can't see it on this picture, but the bottom was slopped, you could shoot people nearly at the base of the tower.
- the white stains are caused by water leaking through the mortar, it's jsut calcite and can cause tiny little stalagtite in some places.
- the vault. I have other photos of the vault but none of them can show how beautifull it is. (teh ceiling is something like 3-4 meter high I think)
- the small square holes in the walls: you can see them everywhere in all castles. Sometimes they have been filled with stones or mortart but often they are jsut empty holes some inches deep. It's called a "trou de boulin" and is a leftover from the scaffoldings used in the construction.
- the keystone at the center of the vault has a rose engraved on it. :)

Not visible on this picture, there is a stone salamander hidden inside an arrow slit. Medieval stoneworkers sometimes added hidden sculptures, a kindof ancient easter egg. :)

Can you see it now?

Another view of an arrow slit. Can you spot the salamander? :)
The narrower part of the arrow slit is the width of a fist approximately. Those people knew how to shoot...

And now?

I love that little critter. Too bad it's so difficult to take a picture of him.

Let's get out, it's bloody cold here!

In this room, the arrow slit are open to the north, so they don't give much light. The light hole over the door helps getting some more light here.
The dark hole over the door is another murder hole, to drop heavy stuff on invaders.

BTW it's indeed quite cold in this room. They didn't have fridges, so cold rooms had to do.
The basement is not accessible, so I can't have any pictures. The first floor is the lord's room, more on this later.
 

hgjs

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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2009, 06:36:56 PM »
Cont.

Quote from: dralasite
What english invaders? Where is my cow?

Is it my cow? No, it's a sheep!

Notice the wall made of "torchis" a mix of mud and straw and/or animal hair over a light structure of wood. It's a very ancient and cheap technic.


Is it my cow? No, it's a toad!

This is apparently a yellow sick toad. A really sick toad. I will not follow it. :eek:


Is it my cow? No, it's an ass!

Possibly a smart one?


Is it my cow? No, it's a piggy!

Let me tell you the story of Paté, Jambon and Cotelette.
During the first year of work, the workers brought various farm animals. Among them were 3 piggies that were free to go as they please. The workers saw the piggies eat in their hands and grow in size and familiarity, waiting in great appetite for the end of the year, for the piggies would have become big fat pigs and be slaughtered in a great feast. They gave names to the three of them: "Paté", "Jambon" ("ham") and "Cotelette" ("chop"?). People liked them, for they were always at their sides and were cute.
Soon came the end of the year and people were uneasy: should they kill the nice little pig? Nobody had the heart to kill and then eat them. :p
A great decison got taken uninamously: they were sparred from the knife and allowed to roam free, without fear.
A second decision got taken, also uninamously: the next piggies would live away from everyone and get eaten, DAMMIT! :D
(This story is highly apocryphe, BTW, but the fact is that there are indeed free pigs in the woods and others which are kepts in pens)

Is it my cow? No, it's a horse!

Let me present you the all-purpose medieval machine.
Usefull for all kind of works. No, he isn't for show here, he hauls stuff around the place all the time.

Is it my cow? No, it's a geese!

Get in the car, it's a geese! :eek:
Seriously, geese are nasty fuckers. If they had arms, they would use it to get switchblades. Don't turn your back on a geese, they are vicious and smart.

DAMMIT! I CAN'T FIND MY COW!?
Must have thrown it already on some other english invaders, probably that Arthur dude...
(there are cows, but apparently we didn't take any pictures  )
 

hgjs

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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2009, 06:37:30 PM »
Cont.
Quote from: dralasite
There are many people working there, some of them are effectively working toward the construction of the castle, the others are doing various crafts for the benefit of the public.
Here are some of them.


The quarrymen. Hard, hard work. They must break big stones into chunks big enough to be worked by the stone workers, but not too big. Sometimes the stone block they are working on can break itself in half, both halves being too small to be useable.
The stone extracted here is ferruginous sandstone. The hardness of a given stone layer or block will depend on it's iron content (and other elements?) and is divided into 3 practical categories:
- high quality: hard stone, difficult to work but usefull for protective walls.
- medium quality: basic workstone, used for all non-defensive stone work.
- low quality: used for mortar mostly.

These stones have got nicknames derived from the sound you get from hitting them with a metal object:
-high quality stone produce a high metallic sound and is called a "peef"
- medium: less metallic sound, called a "paf"
- low quality: makes a pathetic crunching sound while crumbling into sand, called "poof".


The stone cutters.
This is their craft place but I didn't find any pictures of them working. Notice the wooden templates suspended on the beams. It allows them to define the precise dimensions and shapes of the stone block they are cutting.
In medieval times, many of them ended blind or one eyed, because their tools sent bits of stones flying in their faces. Sometimes tehey could still find some work to do despite their handicap.


Wool worker and dyier: her work isn't really used for the contruction, but it's a popular and interesting sight. She not only works the wool but also makes dye and apply it to her wool. According to her accent, she is a canadian.
Another picture of her shop:

This show some of the color she can get with materials available at the time. Components can be crushed bugs, bark, weeds, mushrooms and other.


The blacksmith.
Obviously usefull, he spends most his time repairing tools for the stoneworkers. Seeing him working is really interesting. :)
(that guy, in particular, was a journalist before deciding to work at this castle and learnt blacksmithing from scratch, looking for real blacksmith in order to learn the trade. He retired not long ago, it's a shame because he was cool and really looked the part. :)

(that's it for today, more tomorrow ;) )
 

hgjs

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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2009, 06:38:18 PM »
That's all there was.  Enjoy!
 

Aos

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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2009, 06:42:36 PM »
awesome, thanks!
You are posting in a troll thread.

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Benoist

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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2009, 07:49:38 PM »
Yeah, these guys' experiment is famous in France.
It made it on the evening news a few times. :)

Awesome.

Blackthorne

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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2009, 05:41:15 PM »
I liked the animals.
That one guy can really roleplay a convincing chicken.