experimental archaeology

an open-air laboratory

 The Chapel tower seen from the air, autumn 2014 © Guédelon Ph. D. Gliksman

The aim is to recreate the site organisation and construction processes that might have existed on an early 13th-century building site. 

Previously there was nothing to be found in this woodland: no remains of an ancient castle, no ruins...nothing except a former ironstone quarry, abandoned in the 1950s.   

Guédelon is a "new-build".

Everyday in spring, summer and autumn, the team arrive on site in the knowledge that building Guédelon Castle is much more than just a day-job; it requires a certain mindset, a readiness to learn throughout the construction process and to work in the knowledge that to produce a credible medieval structure, it is necessary to sometimes "unlearn", take down, start again, doubt, before finally feeling on the right track.

Guédelon is an example of experimental archaeology in action.

The scientific committee

Dressing limestone at Guédelon © GUédelon Ph. V. Tierclin

Right from the start, a scientific advisory committee made up of archaeologists, historians and castellologists has been associated with this unconventional project. Certain experts join us "en route" according to our needs, our progress or their research.

Guédelon maintains a two-way relationship with the scientific committee. It offers us advice and approves (or not...) our construction choices whilst, at the same time, for archaeologists, architectural historians etc. Guédelon is a mine of information whether in terms of techniques, the choice of tools or site-management.

"My normal work consists of carrying out research on existing ruins...In fact we mentally deconstruct the wall that we are studying.  This can take us so far, but it remains an intellectual activity.  Today, Guédelon is helping us to put ideas and research to the test. "

Anne Baud - Archaeologist and Senior Lecturer at Lyon University (extract from Fanatics for a Fortress, Aubanel, 2003).

Fitting the keystone 2011 © Guédelon

The members of Guédelon's scientific committee are:

  • Anne Baud, Archaeologist and Senior Lecturer at Lyon 2 University

  • Jacques Moulin, chief architect at Monuments Historiques

  • Nicolas Reveyron, Art Historian and Professor at Lyon 2 University

  • Nicolas Faucherre, Professeur of archaeology at Aix-Marseille University

  • Christian Corvisier, Architectural Historian

  • Philippe Durand, Castellologist and Senior Lecturer at Bordeaux 3 University

  • Frédéric Epaud, Archaeologist, specialising in medieval roof timbers

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