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Press release 2015

Press release 2015

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A castle in the making

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Deep in the forests of northern Burgundy, in a once disused quarry, a team of master-builders is building a 13th-century castle from scratch.


Quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenter-joiners, blacksmiths, tile makers, carters and rope makers are working together to revive heritage craft skills and to shed light on the world of medieval construction.

Guédelon: the ultimate in grand design

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Throughout the seasons, Guédelon's workers rise to the extraordinary challenge of building a castle from scratch.
Visitors from across the globe have witnessed the building of the curtain walls, the Great Hall’s roof timbers, the antechamber and its mural paintings, the castle kitchen and
storeroom, the rib-vaulted guardrooms and the crenelated wall-walk, on this, the only construction site of its kind in the world.
In 2015, the team will build the castle’s final rib-vault on the 1st floor (US = 2nd floor) of the Chapel Tower. The crenelated northern wall-walk will be completed, as will the wooden gallery which skirts around the chapel. In the North Range, paving tiles will be laid on the
                                                               floor of the Great Hall.

Guédelon: illuminating the Middle Ages

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

 

It is impossible to visit castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages without wondering how these buildings were constructed, where the materials came from, how they were transported, which tools were used or how such heavy loads were hoisted.

 

Guédelon sheds light on these mysteries of the medieval world.

Guédelon: learning from experience

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

At a time when environmental protection is of such concern, Guédelon provides practical lessons in sustainable building. This pioneering construction site offers information on cob or rubble walling, making and using limewashes, traditional terracotta roof tiles, oak shakes, flax and hemp ropes.


Inspired by the past, this building site is also of great relevance to the 21st century.

 

Guédelon: an act of folly

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

An archaeological study at Saint-Fargeau Castle revealed a medieval stone fortress hidden
within the red brick walls: the idea of building a castle from scratch was born.
Before the dream could become a reality, there was much work to be done: a site had to
be found, the local authorities had to be brought onboard, planning permission had to be
obtained, the first members of the construction team had to be recruited.

 

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

The dream was to build a castle as it would have been in the Middle Ages: an idea which some found mildly amusing and others dismissed as outright folly.


The site - in the heart of Guédelon forest - was found: a site which offered all the resources necessary for the building of a castle: a stone quarry, an oak forest and a water supply.

The first team started work and the first stone was laid on June 20th 1997.

 

Guédelon: a shared passion

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Today, Guédelon employs 65 people, of whom 35 work on the building site itself. Some were already qualified, others have acquired their skills on site.

In transforming the site’s wood, stone and clay, the Guédelon team are reviving forgotten skills and raising the status of traditional heritage crafts.


At Guédelon, the ability to talk to the visiting public about the skills used in different heritage
crafts is just as important as mastering the crafts themselves.

Guédelon: experimental archaeology in action

© Clément Guérard

© Clément Guérard

Our task is to recreate the construction techniques and the logistical organisation of an early 13th-century building site. We base much of our work on medieval financial records, illustrations on illuminated manuscripts, cathedral stained-glass windows and the evidence of contemporary chroniclers. These sources provide us with an insight into the tools used and the building techniques employed. However, in order to ensure that our working practice matches, as closely as possible, that of the 13th-century, the project's founders and the master mason, insist upon the need to closely examine a number of existing castles. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

These 13th-century castles are the last reliable witnesses left to us by history. Once examined, photographed and measured, their evidence avoids us committing unnecessary errors which would later need correcting. This way of working has allowed us to reveal some of the medieval castle builders' fascinating secrets.

 

Ratilly (89), La Motte-Josserand, Dourdan and Yèvre-le-Châtel are among the castles which serve as models. 

Guédelon: living history

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Every day, the site attempts to resolve many questions still unanswered by historians and archaeologists. The serious nature of the project demands the involvement of the academic world, and our work is monitored by both archaeologists and historians. Their involvement is of mutual benefit; they provide the project with invaluable information, while in turn, they have the unique opportunity to observe a team of builders at work on a medieval building site. They can study the skills needed, how tools are handled, and how the site is organised.

© F. Folcher

© F. Folcher

The advisory scientific committee is comprised of:

 

Anne Baud, archaeologist and lecturer at Lyon 2 University.

Jacques Moulin, head architect at Monuments Historiques, designer of the original Guédelon castle plans.

Nicolas Reveyron, art historian and lecturer at Lyon 2 University.

Frédéric Epaud, archaeologist and CNRS researcher at Tours, specialist in medieval roof timbers.

Christian Corvisier, historien de l'architecture.

Guédelon: passing on knowledge

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Unlike any other present-day building site, members of the public are actively encouraged to observe the work in progress. The workers' role is to demonstrate and explain, to a diverse audience, traditional skills. Stone quarrying, the building of vaulted ceilings, the blacksmiths' work and the assembling of roof timbers, the making of clay tiles are just some of the activities that visitors can witness at first hand during a visit to Guédelon. The workers are always on hand to talk about their craft and the progress of the castle.

Guédelon: where history comes to life

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Each year, 60,000 school children visit Guédelon on a fieldtrip. The site is an excellent educational resource, bringing to life the history of the Middle Ages.  Guided tours are tailored to the school curriculum and to specific age-ranges: activity trails for primary school children and interactive guided tours for secondary school children.  Pupils of all ages have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of medieval stonemasons by taking part in a stonecarving workshop or discover the secrets of the medieval master-builders at the geometry workshop.

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

In the heart of an area of outstanding natural beauty, this ever-changing site can be visited time and time again. Our visitors are intensely loyal and have a deep connection with the venture; they regularly return to follow the construction's progress. Each season, Guédelon welcomes some 300,000 visitors, including a large number of overseas visitors. Guided tours are available in French, English, German and Dutch.
In just a few short years, Guédelon has become one of France's major tourist attractions.
Employing 65 people, this venture, thanks to ticket sales and gift shop alone, is entirely self-financing.

2015 programme of events

© Guédelon

© Guédelon

2015 Building programme

 

On the Chapel Tower: the banker masons and fixer masons will continue work on the 1st-floor chapel. They will dress and assemble the corbels, voussoirs and keystone to form the castle’s final rib-vault.

At the same time they will complete the chapel’s three lancet windows. The carpenters will build the roof of the
wooden gallery which skirts this place of worship.

 

 

 

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

On the western curtain wall: the quarrymen must extract a large number of sandstone blocks in order to keep the stonemasons supplied with building materials for the crenelated wall-walk on the western curtain.

In the North Range: the masons will lay the 4000 paving tiles made and fired last season by the tile makers on the floor of the Great Hall.

On the eastern curtain wall: the woodsmen and
carpenters will build a temporary wooden bridge
which will provide access to the castle’s courtyard
when building work on the gatehouse eventually
blocks access via the fixed bridge.

Practical information

© Guédelon

© Guédelon

How to find us

 

Guédelon is situated in the départment of Yonne, in the north-west of Burgundy, between the villages of Saint-Saveur-en-Puisaye and Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye.

We are 2 hours from Paris, 1hour 45 minutes from Orleans, 2 hours from Dijon, 1 hour 20 minutes from Bourges.

Guédelon, D955, 89520, Treigny, France

 

Opening times

Guédelon is open from 17th March to 4th November 2014.

For more information

© Guedelon

© Guedelon

Books about Guédelon

A Castle in the Making

Maryline Martin and Florian Renucci, Ouest France

Guédelon, Fanatics for a Fortress

Philippe Minard, Aubanel

How to Build a Castle - the story so far

Collective work, Guédelon

For more information about titles available exclusively in French, please see the French version of our website.

 

                                                                               

 

 

Unguided or guided tours (French, English, German and Dutch speaking guides available)

Beginners' stonecarving workshops available for adults and children.

 

Individuals: no pre-booking necessary; bookings for guided visits and workshops can be made on arrival at the ticket office. (Dates and opening times are available on our website.)

 

Groups (+20 people) : pre-booking required. To make your booking please call 03 86 45 66 66 or go to our website: guedelon@guedelon.fr

 

 

                                                        

                                                                              

Press contacts

Maryline Martin, Director General

+33.3.86.45.69.81

maryline.martin@guedelon.fr

 

 

For enquires in English

Sarah Preston  

+33.3.86.45.69.15

sarah.preston@guedelon.fr

 

All photos ©Guédelon. To obtain photos of Guédelon, please contact Sarah Preston. 

 

 

 

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Guédelon is open!


The site re-opened its doors on March 16th.


You will find full details of our dates and opening times here on our website.


We look forward to welcoming you this season to watch the work in progress, notably the building of the castle's final cross-rib vault in the chapel tower, but also the working watermill and the exhibition on hydraulic power in the Middle Ages..

 


 

 

Chantier Médiéval
de Guédelon

D955 89520 TREIGNY
tél. 03 86 45 66 66

Infos légales Plan du site