Ah, Guedelon. What an extraordinary, visionary project. For more detailed info, you can visit the official website. Briefly, though, here’s an overview.
I first learned of Guedelon while watching research dvds. It’s the recreation of a medieval castle and village, built from scratch using only medieval tools and techniques. Most of the people involved are volunteers, and they come to work on the site from all around the world. Guedelon is located in the middle of nowhere, in beautiful French countryside roughly half way between Paris and Nevers. There’s no public transport, you must get there by car or with a coaching group. There were plenty of both when I visited. It started in the late ’90s, and the plan is to finish the entire project by 2023. I hope I can get back there to see it completed. I can only imagine it will be fantastic.
One thing that really amazed me was how fast the exterior of the building was weathering. It didn’t look brand new at all. Of course on the inside, protected from the elements and still under construction, the difference is quite marked.
Here is a selection of the photos I took …
Man-powered hydraulics. This is how huge pallets of stone are winched up to the walls, where the builders set them and mortar them in.
One of the many village buildings on the site. This is for storage. You can see the wattle-and-daub construction for the walls.
Here’s how they keep water on hand for keeping the clay wet for the tile pit. Those split logs travel up the hill to collect run off, which sloshes down to the handmade water barrel.
The site is surrounded by woodland, which proves timber for building.
Precision work from the stonemasons, who design and cut the stone that fits into doorways and windows and so forth.
They even make their own rope on site.
And shear the sheep that provide wool to card and spin and dye for clothing. Here is a vat of wool being boiled in natural dyes. When completed, you end up with wool like this:
All the roof shingles are produced from the site’s timber. They start out looking plain, and then Mother Nature gets to work …
An interior castle passageway.
A window seat. The depth of the walls is amazing.
A different kind of building. Note the thatched roof.
This will be the great hall.
Not always tidy, but it works!
The bailey. Just on the right, ground level, is the kitchen entrance.
Those holes in the walls are for the posts to hold up the scaffolding. Note the beautiful stonework by the masons, around the door and the windows.
Note the weathering. You’d swear this entrance had been around for many decades.
This round tower keep is reminiscent of amazing Angers castle. Photos of that to come!
The bridge over to the bailey. Made by hand, like everything else.
The forge, where all the tools are made, as well as the horse shoes and bolts and nails.
An extraordinary venue. If you ever get the chance to go, I’d say do it!