Hello, our tour through Secrets of the Castle continues in Episode 4. Ruth, Peter, and Tom continue their work on Guedelon Castle. More castle-building secrets are being revealed through this archeological experiment. Ruth, Peter, and Tom have lived on the Guedelon site for four months and are now exploring all the skills that were used to build a castle. It was a combined effort of the community to build a castle.
Blacksmiths, quarrymen, woodsmen, carpenters, and stonemasons all came together to build a castle. The first castles were built of wood and there is a sample of an early castle on the Guedelon site. These castles consisted of a walled enclosed area and a tower. Eventually, these castles would be made of stone, especially if they were at a key strategic site. In England, stone castles were a sign that Norman Rule was here.
The workers at Guedelon are reviving the old practices in building the castle. They are proud of the job they have done at the castle. The walls are made out of a combination of rough field stones with areas of smooth cut stones to strengthen the walls and towers. There were leveling courses to help give the masons a chance to work on a flat surface. Tom helps in the quarry to get a stone that is to be used for a leveling course. He uses the techniques that the Medieval people would have used. In the Middle Ages, quarrymen would have used the natural cracks in the rock to cut stone.
Masons were well paid and well-traveled men, their skills were in high demand. They all gathered in the stonemasons' lodge. It was where the masons’ secrets were kept. Ronald Hutton joins Ruth as they tour the masons’ lodge. Ronald discusses the history of masons and freemasonry. Middle Ages masons had nothing to do with the Masonic Movement and the modern freemason movement was founded in the 16th Century and evolved from there. Ronald sums up the Middle Age masons as doing God’s work because they were the ones that built the cathedrals.
Ruth, Tom, and Peter explore the next skill needed to use build a castle: carpentry. They would have built doors and maintained the scaffolding. Scaffolding was not built from the ground up but moved up as the walls moved up. Guedelon is using modern processed wood and steel bolts for the scaffolding, but the scaffolding on the site resembles what would have been used in the castle building. There have been compromises for health and safety, however despite that the workers still work as they would have done in the Middle Ages.
Blacksmiths were also seen on the site of the castle. They made hinges for the doors and other metal implements for the castle. He keeps the tools sharp for the workers. Tom and Peter work to make a furnace to help smelt iron. Together they make a bloom of iron for the blacksmith’s use. By able to make steel they can make good tools.
The woodsmens’ skills were also used in castle building. They carefully selected trees for use in the castle. Each tree had a specific use for the castle. Tom works on getting a tree chopped down. Sarah the site administrator helps translate for the woodsman. This section demonstrates how much thought the woodsman had to do for a tree to fall safely in the forest.
To continue to see the other skills used in castle building continue to watch this episode. This is another episode that features STEM and STEAM activities for the classroom. This is a skill-heavy episode and demonstrates how everyone came together to build a castle. It also showed how much work was involved in building a castle. If you do not want to show the full episode, then show clips to a class.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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