|Château de Guédelon|
|near Treigny, Yonne, Burgundy, France|
Guédelon Castle in August 2015
Plan of Guédelon Castle
|Owner||Michel Guyot (first owner)|
|Built by||Jacques Moulin (architect)|
|Materials||Wood, stone, lime and other medieval materials|
Guédelon Castle is a de novo castle construction project located in Treigny, France. The object of the project is to build a castle using only the techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages. When completed in the 2020s, it should be an authentic recreation of a 13th-century medieval castle.
In order to fully investigate the technology required in the past, the project is using only period construction techniques, tools, and costumes. Materials, including wood and stone, are all obtained locally. Jacques Moulin, chief architect for the project, designed the castle according to the architectural model developed during the 12th and 13th centuries by Philip II of France.
Construction started in 1997 under Michel Guyot, owner of Château de Saint-Fargeau, a castle in Saint-Fargeau 13 kilometres away. The site was chosen according to the availability of construction materials: an abandoned stone quarry, in a large forest, with a pond close by. The site is in a rural woodland area and the nearest town is Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, about 5 km to the northeast.
The project has created 55 jobs and is now a tourist destination, with more than 300,000 visits each year.
The original idea of building from scratch a 13th-century-style castle came to Michel Guyot while restoring his Saint-Fargeau property. The shape of Guedelon is similar to that of the original shape of Saint-Fargeau. It matured to become a complex project focusing on several aspects:
- Tourism: The construction site can be visited. Guided tours are organised and a medieval restaurant welcomes visitors. The site is now a major tourist destination, being the most visited tourist attraction in Yonne, with more than 300,000 visitors in 2010.
- Education: The project is open and adapted to groups and school excursions. One can learn about work conditions in the Middle Ages and the different professions of the time.
- Science and knowledge: The project team uses and tests scientists' and historians' knowledge of medieval construction techniques.
- Human: In this rural and isolated area, the project created 55 jobs and attracted 200 volunteers.
- Social: The site employs youths facing difficulties, helping them through on-the-job professional training. For example, some of them obtained stonemasonry certifications.
Experimental archaeology employs a hands-on approach of testing methods to rediscover forgotten techniques. It was initiated when academics decided to experiment and learn by themselves the old skills, rather than relying merely on models, hypotheses, and theories. Another example of this approach is the attempts by archaeologists to create flint tools. Over the years ancient techniques are superseded and forgotten.
When ethnographic research is not possible, only archaeological materials and old manuscripts can help. But this creates an interpretation bias. To understand how to use a tool, how to create an object, an actual reproduction becomes necessary. This leads to the creation of swords, siege engines, fortification, etc. The purpose is not only to learn how to fabricate the object, but also to learn how to use it.
For the Middle Ages, this approach was limited to isolated objects, specific functions, and limited sequences. The intent of Guédelon castle is to generate a completely new experiment: the analysis of construction in action, as a whole project.
In November 2014 the castle was featured in the BBC Two series Secrets of the Castle, in which the project was described as "the world's biggest archaeological experiment". The series features Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold.
- Campus Galli – a comparable project to construct a faithful medieval town with a monastery, based on the Plan of Saint Gall; in Meßkirch, Germany
- Castell Coch
- Ozark Medieval Fortress – another, similar (but halted) castle project in Arkansas, USA
- Castle Drogo, an Edwardian imitation castle in England
- List of castles in France
- Willsher, Kim (27 August 2014). "Grander designs at Guédelon: historic chateau project brings past to life". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- Wollaston, Sam (19 November 2014). "Secrets Of The Castle review – good, old-fashioned medieval fun". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- Thomas Bitterli-Waldvogel: Guédelon. Bau einer Burg im 21. Jahrhundert. In: Burgen und Schlösser. Zeitschrift für Burgenforschung und Denkmalpflege. Heft 4, 2006. Braubach, Europäisches Burgeninstitut.
- Minard, Philippe; Folcher, François (2003). Guédelon : des hommes fous, un château fort. Paris: Aubanel. ISBN 2700603133.
- Hutz, Richard (2007). "'There Are Places I Remember': Situating the Medieval Past in Postmedieval Memory". Transfiguration vol. 6:2. Nordic Journal of Christianity and the Arts. Museum Tusculanum Press. pp. 89–108. ISBN 978-87-635-0701-1.
- Dossier Futura-Sciences article Guédelon : renaissance d'un château médiéval (French)
- Guedelon construction photos (French)
- BBC News article
- Building the Great Cathedrals (Television documentary). NOVA. 2010-10-19. Event occurs at 5'10". Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- Guedelon 360°-Panoramatour – August 2011 (French)
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