It’s true! Time-travelling in Guédelon, Burgundy is possible! Sort of. Here, you can find yourself absorbed in the rural beauty of northern Burgundy. Close to the vineyards of Sancerre and Chablis, this ‘new’ medieval castle is positioned in an attractive landscape. A team of master builders and volunteers are constructing one of the world’s biggest archaeological experiments.
Conceived in 1997, the project’s aim was to bring tourism and education to clarify methods employed in 13th century construction. Taking the first year of construction, as if it were the year 1228 AD, the castle is based on the military architectural plans of Philip II Augustus – King of France (1180 -1223) who standardised the plans of castles throughout France.
You will hear the stonemasons’ tools tap-tap-tapping the sandstone, reviving 800 year old methods. Guédelon uses ferruginous sandstone which must be quarried, shaped, and lifted without the aid of today’s machinery.
Everything here is dependent upon the skills of its workers – including stonemasons, tilers, blacksmiths, carpenters, wood cutters, rope-makers, millers, and basket-makers. They all hand-craft each and every component. For example, a stonemason is reliant on the carpenter, for the scaffolding and the treadmills which hoist the stones up the walls. All have essential roles to play here.
There was a very interesting documentary about Guédelon by the BBC a few years ago, with historian Ruth Goodman, called “Secrets of the Castle”. It’s possible to see snippets on YouTube if you care to look! If you can, it’s so worth a visit to this amazing place!
Refreshments are available at a cafe on site and there are picnic areas if you bring your own food. For more information, the website for Guédelon is: