Guedelon Castle

Monday, November 30th, 2015

In a forest in Burgundy, a 13th-century castle is being built using only the tools, techniques, and materials available to the builders of the time:

It’s archaeology in reverse.

The Gu├ędelon project was started in 1997 at this location, which was chosen because it was near an abandoned stone quarry, a pond for water, and in a forest that could provide wood. The whole exercise is an experimental archaeology endeavor that seeks to discover what it would have been like to create a castle centuries ago, not by making guesses from artifacts from the past, but by experiencing it in real time. Knotted rope is used to make measurements, stone is imperfectly cut to denote the station of the castle’s owner, and rock is chiseled by hand.

Guedelon Castle 2013

Guedelon Castle 2013 Opposite

Something similar is going on in Arkansas.


  1. AAB says:

    There was a BBC documentary a while ago about what it would be like to build Gu├ędelon castle.

    It was hosted by a group of archaeologists who made several documentaries for the BBC about what it would be like to live and work on a farm in particular historical era in England:

    Tales From the Green Valley (Tudor England, 1600s).

    Tudor Monastery Farm (1600s):

    Victorian Farm (1800s).

    Edwardian Farm (Early 1900s):

  2. Graham says:

    The one in Arkansas is really going to confuse 31st century archaeologists trying to reconstruct the history of pre-collapse America. Or it’s going to wildly alter their perspective of the even more ancient pre-contact Americas. One or the other.

    I’d be curious if this endeavour will offer me any hints as to how so many castles were constructed on terrifying precipices and ocean cliff-sides. I’d hate to have to build them with modern equipment. I’d assume that the builders were just willing to accept huge worker attrition, but that would have risked the loss of precious skilled trademen as well.

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