It is impossible to visit castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages without wondering how these buildings were constructed, where the materials came from, how they were transported, which tools were used or how such heavy loads were hoisted.
Michel Guyot, owner and restorer of the castle of Saint-Fargeau, in Burgundy (France) first had the idea of building a 13th century style fortress following the discovery that the 15th century red bricks of his castle obscured the stone walls of a much older fortress.
In 1997 he launched Guédelon.
Last September 2008, a letter arrived in St Fargeau from America. Jean-Marc & Solange Mirat, French citizens who retired in Arkansas 20 years ago, were offering to sell a part of their estate to build a similar castle.
A board of 14 members, French, Swiss and American, formed Ozark Medieval Fortress, LLC.
Ozark Medieval Fortress was born after Guyot confirmed the suitability of the site and fell in love with the Arkansas “Natural State”.
At a time when environmental protection is of such concern, Ozark Medieval Fortress will provide practical lessons in sustainable building for green constructors of today.
It will offer information on the making and use of wattle and daub, rubble walling, lime-based mortar, traditional terracotta roof tiles, oak shingles, flax and hemp ropes.
Ozark Medieval Fortress is an educational adventure, inviting onlookers by showing and explaining the past: the extraction of boulders, shaping of stone, the assembly of a wall, woodworking and the transportation of materials by means of horse and cart. Educational visits and field trips are available and will be reserved for children. Ozark Medieval Fortress is a fun, outdoor, living history book!
The scientific objective of Ozark Medieval Fortress is to build it in order to understand it. It acts to recreate in real life the procedures of construction, and the organization of a project from the 13th century. It is just like an archaeological dig in reverse, an open air laboratory. In order to ensure the credibility and quality of the project, a scientific committee is in charge of studying and validating every stage of the construction. Christian Corvisier, a renowned French castellologue and art historian, has established the plans and will work in concert with Andrew Tallon, a professor at the Vassar College (NY).
Ozark Medieval Fortress is unique and will be a humanitarian project. Versatility and adaptability are the magic words of the laborers here. Some of them are qualified professionals some are apprentices. They must be simultaneously good at their work and at informing passers-by who are hungry for more information.