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The 6th Rogue

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New castles bring back medieval memories
« on: Apr 20, 10, 08:36:54 am CDT »

New castles bring back medieval memories
By Deb Peterson, USA TODAY

LEAD HILL, Ark. — The clink of hammers against chisels fills the air as stone masons shape quarried rock high up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.

An apprentice struggles to lift a large stone into place and calls for mortar. Cody Hannah dips a wooden bucket into a pond, fetches water and hooks the bucket on a yoke across his shoulders.

Hannah, 28, of Lead Hill, Ark., is one of 25 artisans and craftsmen, dressed in tunics authentic to the 13th century, laboring to build a medieval castle here — using only medieval material and methods.

"We are the modern-day Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone," Hannah says, using a pop culture reference to describe the stone work and workers' attire.

The Ozark Medieval Fortress, a 20-year-long work in progress, will serve as an outdoor classroom where students experience living history and learn about architecture, geometry, economics and geology.

The castle-in-the-making opens to the public May 1, when students and volunteers will be able to participate in the actual building process.

French project was inspiration

The project, the second such original castle construction in the world, originated in October 2008, when Lead Hill residents Jean-Marc Mirat, 70, and his wife, Solange, 70, both natives of France, visited a similar project in Guédelon, France.

While there they met Michel Guyot, 63, of Saint Fargeau, Burgundy, who in 1979 had purchased the crumbling 1,000-year-old Château Saint-Fargeau, located two hours south of Paris. Archaeologists hired by Guyot discovered 13th-century stone walls hidden behind red brick. The mortar within was still moist, Guyot says.

The discovery set Guyot on a path of not only restoring the old castles of France, he says, but building new ones using medieval methods.

"We're losing some of our old castles," he says.

The first castle Guyot started building from the ground up is Guédelon in Yonne, Burgundy. Work began in 1997 and is scheduled for completion in 2022. The Mirats envisioned a similar endeavor in their own Ozark forest.

Work the old-fashioned way

Rocky Horton, 48, of Marshall, Ark., stokes the fire in his blacksmith shop with ancient bellows. He heats a splitting maul, a hammer, before reshaping it. Honey, his 13-year-old Belgian workhorse, stands nearby hitched to a wooden wagon, ready to haul stone.

The wood, stone, earth, sand and clay used to build the 45-foot-high towers and 6-foot-wide walls of the castle are found at the site and hauled by horses.

"We use only native materials, just like they would have in the Middle Ages," says general manager Julie Sonveau.

As the castle continues to take shape, so will its surrounding community, Sonveau, 46, says. Shops on the periphery already are in place for spinners, weavers, basket, and rope and candle makers. Herbs, grains, vegetables and plants used for dyes grow in raised beds.

Some of the laborers last only a day or two before discovering the job isn't for them. For some it takes a little time to adapt to the old methods.

"I'm jonesin' for my power tools," says head carpenter Juan Montiel, 48, of Nixa, Mo. "There are special ways of using hand tools that we never think about anymore. They work. That's what gets me." Montiel says he had to change his mind-set and slow down.

"The process is what it's all about," Sonveau says. Those who stay say they hope to be on the job the full 20 years.

"People drive right by commercial projects, but this stands out," says Brad Five Cloud, 31, of Harrison, Ark., "My great-great-grandchildren will see this. That's what keeps me coming back."

"The best thing is that it's part of history," Williams says. "I like knowing I've done something that will last hundreds of years, thousands even."

That enthusiasm is what Guyot finds most exciting, he says. "There are so many castles in France, that working at one is just a job," Guyot says. "But here, they come to work so enthusiastic."
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Dragonamant

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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #1 on: Apr 20, 10, 10:12:35 am CDT »



I'm impressed they could find artisans with these skills today.
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The 6th Rogue

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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #2 on: Apr 20, 10, 10:16:03 am CDT »

Considering how unemployment is near 10% around the country; there's plenty of people willing to take up a new trade.
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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #3 on: Apr 20, 10, 10:22:22 am CDT »

And 20-years of planned work to do. Might not be a bad career choice right now.
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The 6th Rogue

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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #4 on: Apr 20, 10, 10:31:19 am CDT »

Damned straight.  That and you can take what you learn there and apply it elsewhere.  The reason my mother's family came over here in the first place is one of my ancestors was a skilled marble worker in Italy who was asked by the church to come to America to help put up some nice cathedrals here.  There's always work for a skilled hand who has mobile feet.
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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #5 on: Apr 20, 10, 06:51:34 pm CDT »

There is an ad in the new Renaissance Magazine from a couple that wants to build castles as homes for folks. They advertise things like using real stone, moats, secret passages, etc.
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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #6 on: Apr 20, 10, 09:57:28 pm CDT »

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The 6th Rogue

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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #7 on: Apr 21, 10, 08:09:41 am CDT »

Jousting event castles     $4,965,000

Yeah, pocket change.  I'll take three.  (rolls eyes)

Yet another fantasy smashed in the brain pan by a lack of appropriate fun funds.  Crap, I hate not being wealthy.
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King Nerd of Dorkshire.
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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #8 on: Apr 21, 10, 12:17:12 pm CDT »

Crap, I hate not being wealthy.

You and me both.  There are so many cool things in the world and so little cash in my stash.
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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #9 on: Apr 24, 10, 11:29:12 am CDT »

Ah, I've always wanted to live in a castle. There is one that a man built in an old boom to bust turn of the century town in  Thurber, Texas that I saw on a road trip visiting historic Texas towns recently. Not sure how much it cost, but way more than I have in my account. Didn't the media magnate William Randolph Hurst build a castle somewhere in New England or New York State somewhere?
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The 6th Rogue

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Re: New castles bring back medieval memories
« Reply #10 on: Apr 24, 10, 09:33:06 pm CDT »

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King Nerd of Dorkshire.
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"Hey, I'm the Doctor, I can save the universe with a kettle and some string...and look at me, I'm wearing a vegetable!"
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