For 20 Years The French Have Been Building A Medieval Castle Using Medieval Techniques, And The Result Is Incredible
If you’re fascinated with the middle ages, you don’t need a time machine to visit the period. Guedelon Castle in Burgundy, France is a unique project where volunteers and researchers are constructing an authentic 13th century castle, using only techniques and materials that were available at the time.
Michel Guyot and Maryline Martin started Guedelon Castle project in 1997, and it has been nearing its inevitable completion ever since. Today, it has created over 55 jobs and draws more than 300,000 visitors every year.
There is even a period-accurate backstory attached to the project that guides the design and construction. In the annals of Guedelon, works began in 1228. Each year that passes is a year in historical time too, so we are now in 1248. “The rule is that only what we know from documents that existed at the time is allowed,” says Sarah Preston, an English guide. “Funnily enough, we found that even though we knew we were being accurate, somehow the castle lacked soul. So we invented a character – the owner – who would have likes and dislikes, wanting this and not wanting that.”
Seigneur Guilbert is a middle-ranking feudal lord, who was granted the right to build his castle because he sided with the crown during a rebellion in 1226.
“At one point we realized the stonemasons were cutting the stones for the towers too perfectly, which just wouldn’t have been appropriate. It would have suggested he had a lot of money and therefore a small army in the chateau, which wasn’t the case.” Completion of this incredible wonder is expected around 1253 – or 2023 in today’s world.
In France, people are building a castle from the 13th century using only medieval building techniques and materials
Michel Guyot and Maryline Martin started Guedelon Castle project in 1997, and its completion is expected around 2023
Here, stonemasons are working on bricks and keystones
Workers transport stones by cart
Special cranes are built to take heavier rocks to higher levels of the building site
In the annals of Guedelon, works began in 1228. Each year that passes is a year in historical time too, so we are now in 1248
“The rule is that only what we know from documents that existed at the time is allowed”
They’re paying extreme attention to detail for the interior as well. Here’s a shot of the timber work inside the castle bedroom
Another view of the castle bedroom and its decorated walls
Even the transport around the site is medieval: people use site carts and horse-drawn carriages to move around
Workers are also re-building servants’ homes and buildings used for daily life
Image credits: Guédelon