Secrets of the Castle continues with how the castle was defended. Guedelon Castle is a 25-year archeological experiment in the Burgundy region of France. The builders are exploring the different techniques that are used to build a castle. The castle at Guedelon was built for a lord who wanted to show off his wealth. There are 36 high curtain walls to protect the courtyard. There is a gatehouse where people could get in and out. There are four towers as well, and one is called the great tower because it is bigger and taller. The walls are 12 feet thick.
The 13th Century was the golden age of castle building. Crusades and dynastic struggles caused the evolution of the castle. The Medieval rulers built stone castles to establish their power and to provide for defense. Tom, Ruth, and Peter explore the defense of the castle and the weapons used in the Middle Ages.
Tom, Peter, and the masons install a special stone to connect the outside of the wall to the inner side of the wall to provide strength for the defense of the castle. If they did not put this stone in place, the wall would be vulnerable to caving in. They also explore the mortar and how it takes centuries to set. Tom points out that “experimental archeology has given you a mortar you can use.” Peter explains how the mortar is set in place and how the builders kept checking the level of the stones in place to keep the walls straight.
Sieges were a big problem for the castle. Soldiers could climb over the walls with ladders or tunnels under them. The Trebuchet was invented during this period. This weapon dominated the Middle Ages and siege warfare. The biggest Trebuchet was Warwolf, which was commissioned by King Edward I. Our time travelers go to a castle nearby where replicas of the weapons used are on display. A crew of five men set up a Trebuchet for firing. Even though the war machines were slow, they were feared. One glance at them caused towns to surrender. For the siege, it is the constant hammering away at the walls which caused a great deal of damage.
Tom, who is a midshipman in the Royal Navy, has a strong interest in Medieval history and armor. Ruth makes cloth armor for Tom and finds that it is a lot of hard work for very little progress. She makes it with sheep wool and linen. Ruth explores how cloth armor was made and explains that the linen and wool are layered together before being sewn down. Cloth armor is the precursor to the bulletproof vest.
The defining feature of the castle is are the arrow loops. They were concealed in the walls and gave the archers an advantage. The mason shows the boys how to build an arrow loop. The arrow loop sloped down to help the archers see invaders. Tom and Peter then explore how archers shot their arrows out of the arrow loops. They even try to shoot into an arrow loop, which proved to be a failure.
To continue to learn more about the Secrets of the Castle continue to watch on. There are several good clips you can use for a shop class. The firing of the Trebuchet would be a good clip to show in a math class. Our time travelers are good at explaining how the castle was built as well as exploring the defense properties of the castle. They discuss how if the tower is attacked the way the stones are laid allow that force to be disturbed around.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
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