Medieval Makers and French Castles

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Like most of us here at Arena, I am a huge fan of “the next big thing.” If you are developing new technology for the purpose of innovation, nine times out of ten I’d like to be your friend. That’s one reason I’m addicted to events like the Maker Faire—I always appreciate opportunities to try the newest design tools and keep up with the latest developments in technology.

But there are some “Makers” who are in favor of leaving modernity behind, in order to better preserve and understand the past.

Exhibit A—Guédelon castle.

Guédelon castle is a 25 year project to build a medieval castle from scratch—and in my opinion, must surely be the outcome of historians and makers getting together over a bottle of Premier Cru Burgundian wine.

The castle is being built using only the techniques available in the Middle Ages—specifically, in the year 1229. The only materials that can be used in construction—wood, stone, earth, sand and clay—must be found onsite, which happens to be an abandoned quarry in Yonne, Burgundy. Quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, tile makers, basket makers and rope makers have been working diligently since 1997 to complete this project, and have attracted quite a following from tourists and the local public. Our VP of Marketing & Design, Marc Escobosa, just returned from France with some amazing pictures of this project that I’d like to share.

A team of people is required to work the crane that puts beams into place

Molding used to support the ceiling while a vaulted stone arch was being
built in the basement of one of the towers.

Blacksmiths - an important part of a medieval manufacturing team

While Guédelon castle itself isn’t exactly an innovation, the idea for this project is extremely innovative. As the founders describe, Guédelon is a back-to-front archaeological dig with the goal of recreating the construction processes that might have existed on an early 13th century building site. As the castle is built, experiments will be conducted and theories will be tested that will help us understand a little bit more about how these massive structures were built.

I think this project is definitely worth a look-see—but for those who can’t make it out to France, the Ozark medieval fortress is being constructed between 2010 and 2030, right here in the United States by the same master planners.

All images copyright 2011 Marc Escobosa

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About the Author

Alex Gammelgard
Alex managed social media marketing and communications at Arena from 2011 to 2012. Although coming in fresh to the manufacturing industry, Alex is married to an engineer and is well ... Read More 

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