Wednesday, October 7, 2009

La Roque-Gageac and Castelnaud

We are here in the valley of the Dorgogne River. La Roque is built into a cliff face that is maybe 1000 feet tall. Beginning at the bottom they built up the cliffs. The back wall of homes appears to be the cliff face. About two-thirds of the way up the cliff is Fort Troglodyte the remnants of series of cliff side dwellings designded to be so unapproachable and forbidding that local marauders would dismiss any thought of attacking it as simply too much trouble. Local history has it that when Vikings came through the locals fled to the cliff caves.A long stairway leads to the cliff that could be easily defended.

The picture on the left is Castelnaud is close La Roque. It is one of the most visited castles in all of France. Built in the early 13th century the castle that had fallen into disrepair and has been restored. Sitting on a hill above the river, with a town at its base, the castle is an example of 13th-15th century warfare, complete with armor, daggers, spears, bows and crossbows. On display were catapults by the names of: pedrero, mangonel, trebuchet and the bombarde.
Several catapult reproductions were on display with an action video demonstrating how they work. This castle also
features the beginning of gunpowder and cannon warfare.The kids around here don't play cowboys and indians they play medieval warriors.

These were difficult times. Both La Roque and Castelnaud were built for warfare and protection from aggressors.If you weren't at war with someone and carry a bow, you were probably building these monstrous structures like Castlenaud. Castle construction took a tremendous amount of calories and man hours. Engineering of the day was kept secret. Even with the technology of today the castles would be a major construction job. I'm sure there were some unhappy camper construction workers in those days.

No comments: