Tuesday 17 August 2010


I always try to combine my hols with some historical or military sightseeing, if there is any opportunity. So this year we left our holiday venue early one morning to drive the 90 minutes west to Carcassonne in the Languedoc region.

Carcassonne is a rare example of what would have been a common sight in the medieval world, a fortified town, complete with inner fortress and outer barbican in this case. It's military promimence came to the fore in the crusades against the heretical cathars of the region in 13th century, at one point being administered by Simon de Montford. It's position then was effectively to control the borders of medieval France and Spain. It consists of complete double-walled fortifications with 53 towers in all.

However all is not what it appears. After the fortication fell into disuse, it was extensively restored in the 19th century by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, who infamously restored other French medieval buildings. Consequently much of the upper ramparts and walls are not original, but it is the overall impression of the place that is impressive and the closest representation of a walled town you may witness (without using CGI technology).

What struck me most were the walls where the wooden pallisading has been restored - this IMHO truly reflects what 15th century walled defenses would have been like, rather than the raw stone walls that we see on most castles - be they actual or on a wargames table - and reminds me that I must add them to mine, when the time comes for a HYW castle.

I also managed to paint a dozen more figures, although the finished quality was poorer than expected - a very warm climate for your holiday is what you wish for of course, but it plays havoc with painting al fresco when your acrylics are literally drying on the brush!!


Bedford said...

Beautifull and very inspirational pics Simon.

Makes me want to have a go at modelling the town walls.... if only I could find the time! I even have someone in mind to do the casting....


Ubique Matt said...

Very nice piccys.

Regarding the wooden parapets I was thinking exactly the same thing after visiting Castle Coch recently. The only example I can think of this type of structure in place is at nearby Caerphilly, both of which were largely rebuilt.


Stuart said...

That looks beautiful Simon, thanks for sharing the pictures. Visiting areas relating to your collections really do help seal your understanding and enthusiasm - plus it's catching!

Hope you managed to leave plenty of room in the car for wine.

The walls of Cardiff Castle have similar wooden ramparts, they're a folly but, as Ubique said I don't think there's anywhere in the UK comparable to this.

Have a look at www.guedelon.fr
A project to build a medieval castle from scratch in Burgundy.

Nice work as usual, cheers


Anonymous said...

Stunning,met a chap last year who went to live near by...Lucky bugger.