Secrets of the Castle - Episode 3
Hello, our tour through Secrets of the Castle continues in Episode 3. Our time travelers Ruth, Peter, and Tom explore how a castle was decorated. When we think of castles, we just think of a barren place that is cold and drafty. However, this archeological experiment is proving otherwise. Castles could be richly and colorfully decorated. The material that early castle decorators used came from the earth. Ruth, Peter, Tom continue to explore the Medieval World.
The castles people visit now are a far cry from what they were when they were in use. They had tile floors, whitewashed, plastered, and covered with clothes. Ruth sums up the difference between castle ruins and the historical experimental castle as “an entirely different beast.” The experimenters are decorating the castle according to the period of King Louis IX of France. The experimental castle is modest, decorated for a lower-ranked noble.
Sarah, the site administrator gives Ruth, Tom, and Peter a tour of the most important rooms of the castle starting with the Great Hall. The Great Hall was the hub of castle life and it was a sight where the castle lord held court. It had to show off the lord’s wealth and status. They then make their way to the great tower where the lord and lady slept. It was the one room that had a fireplace. Peter and Tom are going to be tiling and painting some of the surfaces of the castle. Ruth makes her way to the kitchen. The kitchen is limewashed making it a bright and sunny area. The limewash keeps things clean in the kitchen.
Sarah explains that castles were often limewashed and was glad that they had the chance to experiment with how castles were decorated. The White Tower at the Tower of London got its name from being whitewashed on the outside.
Tom prepares lime mortar to put up against the wall. Rendering was put on the walls to insulate them and to prepare the walls for decorate. It was put on the wall roughly rather than in several layers. It also helps preserve the masonry underneath. They then move to make floor tiles for the site. 28,000 roof tiles were created and it took four years. An additional 80,000 tiles will be needed to cover all the roofs of the castle. Now production has shifted to floor tiles. Producing floor tiles is often laborious as the workers had to separate hard elements from the clay to make tiles. Tile making was one of the earliest industries to have regulations. These regulations included what type of clay could be used for the tile.
The toilets were a common element found in castles. They were called guard robes and clothes were kept in them to keep them bug-free. Ruth and Peter explore the history of the privy or guard robes. The squires often had to prepare the privies before their masters went in them. Often preparation included sweet-smelling herbs to help make going to the bathroom a pleasant experience. What did the Medieval people use for toilet paper? It was not leaves or moss, since you would have to deal with deforestation or have a moss plantation to keep people supplied. Ruth and Peter conclude that everyone had a flannel or shared a flannel.
To continue to learn more about how a castle was built continue to watch the episode. This episode is another fascinating look at how a castle was built. This episode would be suited to an art class, especially if a teacher was discussing how to make tiles or painting techniques. Ruth goes into a great deal on how the Medieval people made colorful paints. Again, teachers, you are only limited by your imagination when you use YouTube in your class.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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