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 Guédelon, Knots and Technology

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Iskar
Peasant turned Lord
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Join date : 2011-08-19
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Location : Germany

PostSubject: Guédelon, Knots and Technology   Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:32 am

I have just returned from my holidays in France, which by the way were awesome. Apart from visiting countless castles in he Languedoc in southern France (including the marvellous fortified city of Carcassone with over 50 towers, two curtain walls, a moat and a separate citadel), on the way back we paid a visit to the site of Guédelon in Burgundy, eastern France.

Guédelon is not a historical castle but one of the biggest (if not the biggest) projects of experimental archaeology in Europe. Since 1998 around 35 craftsmen (smiths, carpenters, stone masons and many more) are building a 13th century style castle at the location of an abandoned quarry, using the wood, stone and clay they find there. They only employ means known to have been used at that time and the whole project will answer literally any question one could have about medieval construction projects. The castle will be completed around 2025 and I can only recommend visiting the site when you happen to pass through Burgundy. There are four points I would like to mention in particular in connection with my visit there:

1) The question whether what was first, the castle or the village near it, is entirely wrong. They both require and cause each other inexorably. The village would grow with the walls of the castles as the craftsmen and workers would establish their homes near the building site and there was a lot of secondary and tertiary crafts and services necessary for the construction to run smoothly, starting from the smith making the tools for the masons to work with and going to farmers and cattle herders to feed the workers. Except for the highly specialised masons, who would travel from site to site, the craftsmen, workers and farmers would just stay at the site, continuing to work for and at the castle after its completion. It was the money provided by the lord who ordered the construction that fueled the whole development, but once the money had entered the almost self sufficient system of the building site, the system kept running by itself.

2) The build times used in the metagame are far too low. Usually a castle would take ten to 20 years to build, depending on the size and ambition of the project even more. However, for practicability reasons we will stick with the 1 turn build time for the castle and town upgrades.

3) One of the most astonishing aspects is the multitude of geometrical and mathematical tricks used by the architects and "masters of construction". They had a rope with 13 equidistant knots in it, which they could use for various purposes, such as constructing rectangular triangles, equilateral triangles, circles, rectangles, squares, etc. They even knew how to use it like a calculator for addition, subtraction and even multiplication and division. Then there were also measuring rods, lead rulers (used as water level), angle calibres and much more. I bought one of those ropes as well as an instructive guide to use it and might soon post something about its features.

4) I also found a very nice (french) book about inventions and technology in medieval times, which I will likely work through in the coming days. I will then post something about commonly used technologies in this thread, so you get an idea what kind of technology your characters would know and what would be possible to obtain or construct in the world of Pendor.

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Last edited by Iskar on Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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DrSane
Knight
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PostSubject: Re: Guédelon, Knots and Technology   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:07 pm

We make castles in one turn with noldor magic
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Mordred
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PostSubject: Re: Guédelon, Knots and Technology   Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:50 pm

Interesting stuff! If im ever in that part of France I will check that out for sure. As to construction times.. I am well aware of this, but I didn't think anyone would want to wait several months (real time) to build a Stockade, nor several years for a Castle or even decades for a Citadel; I would rather hope we're actually playing PoP4 by then!
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Sir Haegon
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PostSubject: Re: Guédelon, Knots and Technology   Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:42 am

I've been to that site in Guédelon too Smile

few months ago.. such an awesome place
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