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The Tudor Society

Secrets of the Castle – 5 part TV Series

Secrets of the CastleJust to let you know that if you are in the UK or have access to BBC2 then you can enjoy a new five part series which starts on Tuesday 18th November at 9pm.

The series features Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold, from Tudor Monastery Farm, and in this series the team learn how to build a medieval castle using the same tools, techniques and materials available in the 13th century. Here is the blurb for episode 1:

Ruth, Tom and Peter arrive at Guedelon in the Burgundy region of France, to join the world’s biggest archaeological experiment - a 25 year project to build a medieval castle from scratch, using only the tools and materials available in the 13th century.

Although Britain has some of the finest remaining castles of the medieval period, many of their secrets have been lost in time.

Peter and Tom set to work straight away learning the skills of the medieval stonemasons to construct a beautiful spiral staircase. After digging stone out of the quarry they take it to the tracing floor, where every stone is marked out using the most closely guarded knowledge of the medieval castle builders: geometry. Then each step is hand carved, a three-day task, before being winched into place using the treadmill-powered crane.

Meanwhile Ruth sets about equipping the simple wattle and daub hovel that is to be their base. She experiments by laying a rush floor, and she commissions clay cooking pots and an oak grain arc to store their wheat and barley. Medieval saws were incredibly expensive, so the arc is carved with an axe and assembled without nails.

It becomes clear that all the stone, wood, mortar, dyes, food and water required for the castle needed to be sourced from the surrounding landscape - transporting heavy goods in the 13th century was expensive. One of the most important resources on a medieval building site was water, so Peter visits a wood turner to make a pulley and Tom makes a rope to hoist the bucket from the well. As they enjoy a simple meal of barley and vegetable pottage, they reflect that there are no easy jobs in the medieval age!

It sounds good, doesn't it?

Click here to find out more.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. D /

    Watched the 1st one last night, it’s amazing….the tools, hoists, how they measured stone was so simplistic, but so accurate and effective that everything we build today is based on all the same principles, the only difference being is we have taken a lot of the sheer physical hard work and lessened the time period by mechanicalization of the machinery.
    The main thing that is missing from out building now is the craftsmanship that was used then. To see the men working as they did back then its hard to believe the beautiful buildings were done like this often on a much larger scale.
    It showed building generated so many other trades necessary to provide for the building itself, and for the work force, so living around a building site would have been a good source of income for the ordinary folk too and thriving villages quickly sprang up around it. The domestic side to living around the building is also great to see , with Ruth showing and doing the hard graft that went with that too, in her usual enthusiastic manner. Can’t wait for next weeks episode.

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Secrets of the Castle – 5 part TV Series