Now we are going to explore history meets reality TV in Secrets of the Castle. Tom Pinfold joins up with Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginn to learn the secrets of castle building. Castles had a French origin. So our time travelers to go France and Guedelon castle. Guedelon Castle is part of an archaeology experiment to determine to build a castle. Castle building required a whole community of builders, masons, blacksmiths, lumberjacks, and tile makers. The project for the year is getting work done on the Great Tower.
So how do you build a castle? You start with a wooden model, which allows you to change things before you start building. The second step in building a castle is finding a good location for your castle. A good location includes access to water, wood, and rock. You also have to have the right stone to build a strong castle. Tom and Peter explore the different types of stones and where they were placed in the castle.
Ruth explores the Medieval Hovel and how the castle builders’ camps evolved into villages. Ruth works to make the hovel a home. She starts with the fire pit. She then asks a carpenter to make a grain arch. The grain arch has a removable lid so she can make dough. In the meantime, Ruth lays out the rushes on the floor of the hovel. She is putting theory about rushes into practice by laying them in a herringbone pattern. Ruth gets pots from a pottery maker. Using pottery for cooking is one of the longest practices in the world. Clay came from the nearest source as it could - from a pothole. The hovel is equipped with a grain arch, pots, bowls, nets for hanging other types of food. The hovel is not only a living space but a storage space.
Another vital resource in castle building is water. Thousands of gallons of water per day were used on the castle building site. Peter and Tom work to repair the well by getting a pulley and rope made. The rope is made by using a rope walk. Water is used to make mortar. Mortar formulas were closely guarded secrets and their strength determined how well the castle could hold off.
The boys help get a doorway prepped for a castle. They are surprised at how little metal is used in castle buildings. However, where metal is used it is in an essential place.
The boys put Ruth’s floor to the test and discuss the hovel. Their initial reaction to the hovel is one of disgust but once they discuss it they find that it is not a bad place to live. They find that the floor is warm and that the small space is would be easier to heat. The next morning Peter and Ruth explore Medieval clothing. Peter comments that he can see how clothing evolved.
To find out more about how a castle was built, continue to watch the episode.
With the first episode, you are not limited to a history class, you can bring this episode into a woodshop class or a class featuring STEM or STEAM. In the first episode, there is a demonstration of how carpenters worked wood without saws. There is quite a bit of STEM and STEAM you can get out of this series. You can even show this in a science class because historians are applying the scientific method during this experiment. If you need something do to in a pinch for a class, then you should show this series. However, if you don’t have a substitute teacher in the classroom, you should be able to find clips for use in the classroom.
You can learn more about Guedelon here.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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