This castle has been 20 years in the making--and it's not even finished yet

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There is a good BBC series that explores this project


Building a medieval castle in 20 years using period materials and tech would have been the norm with a royal budget. With donations I’m not entirely sure what they’re trying to prove.


On the other side of the forest another group of enthusiasts have been just as busy putting together a historically accurate set of siege engines…


They aren’t trying to “prove” anything. They just think it’s neat. It’s like the people who build computers out of logic gates rather than microprocessors – obviously it can be done as that’s how it was done. But that’s different than doing it yourself.


This guy has been single-handedly building his castle for over 60 years now. It even has a fire breathing dragon!


My friends got married there. It’s one of the freakiest places I’ve ever been.


20 years? Pish. There’s a church in Catalonia that folks have been working on for 140 years, funded by donations. That’s got at least another 20 years yet before it’s finished.


The cathedrals of Europe took centuries to complete.


Using the old medieval nylon sling and shackle bolt, I see :stuck_out_tongue:

This is really cool, I love this old style of construction.

I like this video for the same reason, traditional Finnish wood-working:


Some people are smart and good at doing things.


Let me introduce you to Experimental archaeology :


Yes ! But they didn’t work on it continuously for centuries. Most churches and cathedrals have been expanded trough the age, or modified to match new taste in art & architecture. So many are architectural patchwork featuring many different styles from Romanesque to Gothic.
It is also true for civil and military architecture.


Actually it took 2 to 10 years for a typical medieval castle built of stone (less if built of wood and earth). I’d say they’re doing pretty good for a volunteer effort funded by donations. Citation:

Not trying to prove anything, just doing something they enjoy. Like unto a renaissance fair, only when they are old they can point to the castle and say. “I helped make that.”


It varied quite a bit. At the fast end, 25 to 50 years for Chartres and Salisbury respectively. In the middle, Notre Dame and Lincoln took about a century. Cologne took 600 years. Citation (grey on white text, near unreadable, National Geographic should be ashamed of themselves. Use instapaper or something):

You can’t really compare castles to cathedrals in terms of building times. First because castles were utilitarian military defensive structures, while cathedrals were prestige projects made as beautiful and decorative as possible. So even aside from matters of finance, cathedrals had to take longer because of all the artistry that went into them.

Second because castles were paid for out of the ruler’s treasury and out of taxes (or by borrowing), so you didn’t often run into budgetary issues (a lord who couldn’t afford to finish his castle on time would lose his lands and his head to the enemy). Cathedrals were paid for by the town and the people of the town in which they were located. In a bad economy, or after a calamity (plague, invasion, fire, flood, etc), the unfinished cathedral would be mothballed until the town had a surplus again. The Black Death put the brakes on several cathedral projects, some (like Siena) were never completed as planned.

Third, Castles were seldom architecturally adventurous, while cathedral makers would try to achieve ever larger and more open interiors with as much window space as possible, pushing the limits of their construction materials and of their mathematical and engineering knowledge - so cathedrals sometimes suffered engineering setbacks (roof collapse, etc) that would add years to the build time.


Carlisle Cathedral shrank to being Britain’s second smallest cathedral because they kept needing stone to reinforce the castle. It still has one of the largest Flowing Decorated Gothic East windows in Britain though.


How often do they call up their peasants for feudal service?


I hate to appear arrogant here, but Cologne’s Cathedral started being build in 1248 and was supposedly finished in 1880. Tough then they found out that the placeholders for “holy men” was overstated, they still find personalities to fit the empty spaces (football players (soccer), actors, worthy ones from cologne) …
And to avoid discussions from the atheist side of the road (weather I’m one of them or not doesn’t matter), it’s the only church/cathedral in the catholic universe not owned by the church/vatican, but by the people/citizens of Cologne
On a side note, this city exists since 1968 years, officially founded in 50 AD as a city …


Think of it as social-security or health-care …?

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edit: for instance, in episode 2 of that series, they note that the experiments on site have given them insight into the type of mortar used by medieval masons.

Quite a lot of medieval technology has been lost, simply because written records were spotty. Medieval europeans didn’t publish abstracts of their inventions through a patent office. Instead, they frequently kept them secret, as it would give them an edge over commercial rivals.