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Thread: Guedelon Castle

  1. #1

    Guedelon Castle

    The topic this week in the Photo Phorum is "old school" Rules are to take pictures of something "old school" within a certain period of time. Today I was out on the bike and thought about this ride I took in September of 06. It was the first big, long, solo ride I took since getting back into riding. It was a one day ride to Treigny, France. A friend had sent me a CNN news article about a guy in France that was building a mid evil castle, with mid evil materials. I dubbed my report back to my friend as "The Triegny Affair", in honor of the great series from the 60's, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Here's my email, lifted, copied, and pasted

    Yesterday I rode my moto to Treigny to check out the castle called "Guedelon". I left home in the rain at 7:00 am and had to be back in Geneva at 7:30 pm for a parents meeting at the hockey rink. The Accu-weather forecast was for sun and clouds so the morning rain didn't bother me. The first two hours were on wet, curvy, mtn roads. Finally the roads dried out and it was such a relief that I decided to go 30 minutes the wrong way down the French turnpike. So, an hour total to correct the screw up and I was on my way. I finally arrived at the castle at 1:45. I had decided that my turn back time would be 2:00 so I wasn't happy about the late arrival due to rain, missed turns, bad ideas ( short cut???) and more rain. I walked around until 2:15 and was really impressed with the activities. I will definitely go back and spend an entire day there. The workers were just coming back from lunch and I had time to watch two guys clinking away on a huge piece of sandstone. So, more rain on the way home, more short cuts that added time and distance to my day but finally after soul searching and admitting that the only way I could make the meeting on time was to go balls out (in the rain) on the autoroute for two hours, I arrived at the rink 20 minutes early to have my first meal of the day. Two bags of chips and a large beer. When I got home my trip odometer recorded a 966 kilometer day.

    So, most of what will be written to describe these pictures is "lifted" from the pamphlet I just found under my copier............ I've been looking for it for over a year ah, that would be the pamplet, not the copier......

    Ok, so this guy has the idea to build his castle. He starts in 1997 and is giving himself 25 years to complete. He gets the Head Architect of the French historical monuments society, to draw up some plans. Scientific support is provided by a group of archaeologists, art historians, and castle specialists. Every thing you see in these pictures was made by artisans. All the buildings, scaffolding, etc. was cut from the forest. There were pigs and chickens running around, they grow the workers food, make the clothes, etc.

    Here is the edge of the quarry. This is ferruginous sandstone. A line of holes is hand drilled into the block of stone. Steel wedges are fitted into the holes and are struck with a stone hammer. the shock wave causes a lateral fissuring of the stone along the line of holes. Depending on how the rock turns out, it is used for base wall, middle wall, ceiling, floor, window, etc. It's pretty complex, next time you walk by your neighborhood castle, check out the stonework.

    The stone cutters wear out two sets of tools per day which keeps the black smith busy. No tools, no progress.

    when the workers get a stone loose, they need to move it to where it can be "fine-tuned". Here's the hamster wheel where a dude does the "hamster" dance to get the rock from the quarry to the work shop.

    Here's where the stone cutters add the finishing touches.

    Obviously the village smitty is the BMOC, big man on castle.

    If you happen to be riding an airhead when you visit Guedelon, you will have any tool you could possible need for a complete rebuild right here in his shop. Remember to ask for wrench sizes in Roman Numerals........

    the mortar pit

    This is a self guided tour. It is somewhat an OSHA nightmare.

    So, some of the beautiful finished work I was able to get a good look at. An archer's perch.


    And here's the clincher. Even old buildings in "the New World" have worn out, smooth, almost soft steps. Boy, I'd hate to do a header down these after a night with the knights...

    and yes, there was a throne............. a French throne.

  2. #2
    Registered User burnszilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Redwood City, CA
    That is impressive.
    Stephen Burns - 2007 R1200GS
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  3. #3
    Wow, it takes all kinds, huh?

    Some really nice photos in here. I like the buttressed ceiling and the tools. (OK, and the French throne).

    This dude's definitely old school.

  4. #4
    Rally Rat PAULBACH's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Ballston Spa, NY; South of the Adirondacks, North of the Catskills and West of The Berkshires and Green Mountains
    And here's the clincher. Even old buildings in "the New World" have worn out, smooth, almost soft steps. Boy, I'd hate to do a header down these after a night with the knights...
    Are those hand prints in the stone?

    Thanks for the report!

  5. #5
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Great read, thanks!
    "A good stick is a good reason"
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  6. #6
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Very ... something.

    What kind of staff is he using to build this castle?

  7. #7
    Knary, there is a staff of 35 artisans working on the castle (not counting the three draught horses) They are primarily quarrymen, stonecutters, masons, woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, rope makers, a potter ( that gets the clay from the woods, her process from preparation to production takes three months and is followed by 17-18 hours of firing at temperatures that reach 1,000-1050 cent. It takes the kiln 5 days to cool down!) They even make the workers clothes from weaving the wool from the sheep.

    Paulbach, I don't think those are hand prints in the stone. The stone cutter puts two marks on each finished stone. One is a stamp of approval that says the work is carried out and the other that indicates exactly where the stone is to be positioned to those already laid. I think the marks on the steps are a code for where/how the stone is to be positioned.

    Treigny is about two hours southeast of Paris. Closest big town is Auxerre.There's a lot more info here:

  8. #8
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    SE Michigan
    That is really interesting. I'd love to see reports as the construction continues. Unique-thanks for posting.

  9. #9

    Thumbs up

    Neat report. What a work goes into that stone masonry.. Amazing that people way back could build so much without 'modern' tools....

  10. #10
    BeemerBoy terham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Exit 31, PA TPK
    Pretty incredible. Only 14 more years to move in day - I suspect it'll be a hell of a house warming party.
    R75/5 R100RS K100RS R1150RT
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  11. #11

    Guedelon update

    I went back to Guedelon the first week in May. Pictures in the Utah beach/ The Bulge report.

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