Monday, June 14, 2010
The Medieval Kingdom of Ozark ...Arkansas
The project was begun by Michel Guyot, a frenchman who had worked to restore castles in France. One year he received a letter from someone who had visited one of his
castles, and who had told them that the Ozark forest, their home, bore a remarkable resemblance to parts of the French countryside, and suggested that it would be a great place for a castle.
Michel Guyot agreed, and after raising 1.5 million in investments the Ozark Medieval Fortress was begun. The land was chosen not only for its resemblance to the French countryside, but because of its proximity to a quarry.
The project will be going on for about 30 years but the site is already open. The construction methods and equipment are also all authentic, save for some updates to satisfy modern safety regulations.
The project has been taken up largely by locals, who hope to be involved with this for quite a few years.
It is interesting that this is taking place in the American Heartland. In many ways 'outside of Europe' may be an ideal way to undertake this project. If you were building it in France there is the question of where would you put it. You couldn't build on ruins and if you build it over top of where a castle used to stand you interfere with future archaeological projects, and you would have to worry about maintaining authenticity, i.e. you would have to build a replica of the castle that was there before. By contrast the one in Arkansas is being built to an ideal, or a standard and can include many different aspects of a medieval French castle, aspects which were prevalent in many castles, but which would necessarily have been built altogether in any one place. If you chose to build a castle in France nowhere near any historical locations you would be asked what part of history that does represent, as it is not representative of anybody. It would also give a false sense of strategic locations and important waterways/passages. In Arkansas you don't have to justify its location, save for finding the resources that are appropriate. In Arkansas it won't confuse the pre-existing medieval landscape, as North America's medieval period left very different physical remains.
That being said, a project is being undertaken in Burgundy, France called Guedelon. Very interesting.
I see many a historical picture being filmed there in the future.
So if you are in the vicinity of Ozark, in Arkansas, check out some medieval castle construction.
Also check out what medievalists.net has to say about the project.