Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Guédelon: Trades come alive at ‘medieval’ site

Visitors are not usually welcome at building sites but not so at Guédelon, a site in Burgundy which is being run entirely along medieval lines.

 Its castle-builders of all trades are keen to show off their skills, whether they are woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, tile makers, stonemasons or basket and rope makers. Master mason Florian Renucci, in charge of daily organisation, checks that the work carried out is historically, architecturally and archaeologically correct.

 Learning to use 13th century building techniques effectively has not been easy, he says, especially when the walls are three metres thick and the stone is being quarried locally, by hand (the site is located in an old quarry).

 “It’s ironstone, a very hard stone that we had to learn to extract,” he said. Quarry workers also had to master the art of searching for lines of weakness in blocks of sandstone, before drilling holes and inserting steel wedges with sledgehammers, creating shock waves to neatly split the rock.

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