How to Build a Castle

From repairing a well to building a chapel window–all the basics are here.

A friend of mine recommended this documentary series on a group of folks building a medieval castle in France. I am totally hooked. I would love to join these guys for a few weeks to help them build this castle. I’d literally be working my ass off, but it would be so neat!

Episode 1–Getting Started

How to outift a worker’s hovel (make furniture without nails–grain ark, rushes on the floor, clay cooking utensils) How to eat (gardening, hand-milling flour, clean dishes without a washcloth). How repair a well (make a pulley, make a rope). How to build a straight castle wall (grade sandstone in the quarry, make mortar, hoist materials up the castle towers with medieval winches, rollers & levers). How to build castle staircase (shape limestone, chalk + string line marker, sharpening masonry tools). Clothing (dresses, underwear, hose, headwear).

Episode 2–Defending the Castle

How to build a thick wall to withstand attack (arrow loops). Catapult demonstration. How to build a crossbow (shaping the bow, stringing, forging a stirrup, mass-fletching bolts). Armor (gambeson, chainmail). Soldier’s meal (roasted pork vs.stew). How to make nails (when to use nails).

Episode 3–Interior Design

How to make paint (mining ochre, processing ochre–red, orange, yellow, black, brown, making plaster, making limewash). How to make a fine paint brush. What to decorate walls with (fabric, tapestry, altar murals, floral motifs). How to make floor tiles (mining clay, working the clay, pressing the templates, drying, stacking tiles, firing/kilnmaking, selecting tiles). Castle bathrooms (what to use as toilet paper). Castle chapel niches.

Episode 4–Basic Craftmanship

The first temporary castles (motte & bailey). How to build strong, tall castle walls (quarrying stone, stonemasons lodge, pockmarking walls, installing scaffolding, carpentry, scaffolding). How to chop wood (making steel, hardening the metal, making axes, selecting trees, felling the tree, de-barking). Importance of watermills (flour, rising agents, ovens, sourdough bread). How to cook a pike fish.

Episode 5–Master Craftsmanship

Exploration of construction workers migration patterns throughout the country. Pilgrimmages (information highways, spiritual tourism). How to make a cushion (textiles, dyes–woad blue, gold thread, needlepoint). How to build a door (woodcutting, splitting wood into planks, acquiring heartwood, building the archway, forging hinges, installation). How to build a vaulted corridor. How to build a chapel window. How to make ginger bread (spice trade, ginger, nutmeg).

Want more living history?

Image source: Wikipedia

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