People in France have been building a Middle Ages-style castle for 20 years

It's one of the world's unique initiatives. Twenty years ago, an archaeologist near the French city of Auxerre came up with a somewhat crazy idea. He wanted to try to build a fortified castle based on the model of those that Philippe Auguste had quickly built before the invasion of the English, and which form part of French heritage today.

The only condition for this project was that it had to employ the same building techniques that people used in the Middle Ages. 

This was how Project Guédelon was born — the construction of a fortified castle under the same conditions as 800 years before.

The construction site was not chosen at random; it had to be somewhere with a good supply of wood — with forests of oaks, and sources of stone, like the red sandstone and the white limestone which is used for the windows.

And ultimately water, one of the most basic resources for anything, was also required. Fortunately, there is a source almost 20 ft under the castle courtyard.

Florian Renucci, in charge of realizing the project, told the La Croix newspaper, "The objective of Guédelon is to show a castle, a new castle, in full construction as it would have been seven centuries ago, with the techniques, tools and lifting gear."

No electricity, no engines, no computers, no drills or explosives. Everything is done with the strength of people and horses, working with wood, mortar, stone and linen ropes.

This titanic undertaking, which started 20 years ago, has already provided historians and archaeologists with considerable knowledge. They were the ones who initially guided the workers and taught them the ancient building techniques.

Today, it’s the workers who bring the historians many clues about French history. Moreover, more than 300,000 visitors a year have the opportunity to jump back in time to the 13th century.

Mortar is made from slaked lime and the sands of Guédelon.

The stones are cut with a hammer and a chisel.

All trades are dependent on each other, they all work together. Porters...

and blacksmiths...

work alongside masons and tailors,

with the person that makes colored pigments...

or the people who braid the ropes. Together, they are building this imposing edifice together stone by stone.

It's also a form of eco-construction, a scientific and commercial challenge which shows that the techniques used by man centuries ago can still work well today.

The emergence of new technologies can sometimes mean we forget centuries of discovery and knowledge. It is important to remind ourselves of the legacy and achievements of our ancestors.


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