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Building a Castle: Guedelon

We have been looking week by week at how castles were built in medieval times. For reference I am using the Haynes Manual of The Medieval Castle which chronicles the creation of a medieval-style castle at Guédelon in France, using only medieval tools and methods.

I thought it would be good to pause and have a look at this actual castle. The picture below is a photo of two pages in the book – that’s why it’s crooked!

Guédelon Castle under construction

Entry to the castle is from the south across a fixed bridge (only kings or major towns used drawbridges) through the twin-towered gatehouse. Kidwelly Castle, for example, in my husband’s home town has a magnificent twin-towered gatehouse.

Kidwelly Castle gatehouse

Guédelon Castle is rectangular with a tower at each corner. The western tower has a pigeon loft on top. The north west tower contains a water reservoir in the basement, a guardroom with arrow loops on the ground floor, and the chapel above, with a beautiful gothic tracery window. 

Oystermouth Castle

Oystermouth Castle near where I live, has a beautiful chapel window, in the unusual square chapel tower added later by Alina de Braose, who is the subject of Alina, the White Lady of Oystermouth.
Above the chapel is a lookout post with a conical roof. The north east tower is the Great Tower, much larger than the others.

Opposite the gatehouse is the north range which contains the great hall and the antechamber which is the lord’s chamber. Almost everyone else would sleep in the great hall. There is a wooden walkway high along the curtain wall, which rests on putlogs inserted into the stone wall. There is a postern gate at the rear of the hall.

Guédelon Castle

The picture above is too small to read the notes on it. The far left tower is the western tower. Behind it to the right is the chapel tower. The gatehouse’s twin towers are central with the great tower behind the eastern tower on the right hand end.

[adapted from The Medieval Castle Haynes Manual by Charles Phillips]

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at