Builders go back in time to construct castle the medieval way

Wed Sep 14, 2016 4:43pm EDT
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By Miranda Alexander-Webber

TREIGNY, France (Reuters) - Blacksmiths, stonemasons and quarrymen are hard at work in a Burgundy forest building a 13th century-style castle using the most basic tools and materials, replicating the methods used hundreds of years ago to better understand them.

Forgoing all modern technology, workers use hammers to break stones and forge iron, operate wooden wheels to hoist their materials up to where they are needed, and rely on a quarry for stone, clay and sand as they build up a castle from scratch.

Construction on Guedelon Castle in central-eastern France began in 1997 after an archaeological survey revealed a medieval fortress hidden inside the walls of nearby Chateau de Saint-Fargeau.

Those behind the project hope to answer questions about medieval construction and provide lessons on sustainable building.

Around 40 people work at the site.

"The point of what we're going to do here is... also help better restore ancient heritage," 44-year-old stonemason Clement Guerard, who has worked on the site since 1999, told Reuters.

"What is perhaps frustrating is that what we do takes a lot of time. In the modern world, we are used to working very quickly... Here, we want to focus on quality more than quantity, and you have to forget some of the pace of modern life to be able to adapt to working by hand."

After initially being funded, the project is now financed by the roughly 300,000 tourists who visit each year to see the castle slowly come together. Hundreds of people also come each year to work on the project.   Continued...

A view of the construction site of the Chateau de Guedelon near Treigny in the Burgundy region of France, September 13, 2016.   REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen