A construction like 1,000 years ago carried out in Ornavik Park, near Caen

A construction like 1,000 years ago carried out in Ornavik Park, near Caen
A construction like 1,000 years ago carried out in Ornavik Park, near Caen


Grégory Maucorps

Published on

June 22, 2024 at 7:10 p.m.

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It took almost four months to the company “Métiers du bois” based in Bretteville-sur-Odon, near Caen (Calvados), to build the new keep of the castle mound of the park Ornaviklocated on the Beauregard estate in Hérouville Saint-Clair and visible from the dual carriageway between Caen and Ouistreham.

“Place yourself in the shoes of the builders of the time”

And 12.5 meter high building installed on a mound and made with the techniques of the timeeither almost 1000 years ago. The new construction being from the period 1080, at the end of the reign of William the Conqueror.

It was an experimental archeology approach. Rebuilding an 11th century tower is special. You had to put yourself in the shoes of the builders of the time and the materials they had available. Today, we would have done it differently, with lighter sections.

Edouard Grisel, the architect who took care of the project

What is a castle mound?

A castle motte is a medieval fortification. This type of defensive architecture built on a strategic site serves both as a place of habitation and a military entrenchment. Place of administrative and judicial power, it is the most common type of fortified residence of the little lord. Known in Normandy from the end of the 10th century, it made it possible to organize the defense of the territory.
More effective than the simple wooden rampart, it is a permanent fortified camp comprising a lower part (lower courtyard) where we find the residential and administrative part, and an upper courtyard where we find the keep of wood constituting the defensive shelter in which the lord will take refuge in the event of an attack.

The new 10th century tower of Ornavik Park was installed at the end of May 2024 in the space dedicated to Hérouville Saint-Clair. ©Grégory MAUCORPS

The Bayeux tapestry speaks of this type of construction

The project leaders also relied on Luc Bourgeois, professor of medieval archeology at the University of Caen, and his knowledge of this period. “I work on wooden castles from the 10th to the 12th centuries. There, we are rather sure an 11th century construction“, says the teacher. “There are very few traces of wooden castles left, it was necessary to be in a marsh for the conservation of the wood. On the other hand, we have the Bayeux tapestry Who speaks just like texts which describe the construction techniques« .

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“There were no nails, only assembly! »

The new dungeon of the castle mound of Ornavik is made only ofwood assembliessuch a castle Jura game for children !

We are sure of the techniques used. There were no nails, it was just assembly. William the Conqueror also arrived in Hastings with his kit castle, it can be easily moved.

Luc Bourgeois, professor of medieval archeology

“With the palisades and the ditches, it’s a defensive tower“, adds the architect Edouard Grisel. “The ground floor is not accessible, this watchtower is designed like a dungeon with a ladder to access the first floor that can be removed in the event of an attack.”

With its mound of earth, the dungeon of Ornavik Historical Park rises to 22 meters high. ©Freedom

“A construction to see and be seen”

At that time, you could choose stone or wooden castles, depending on your means. ” It’s a construction for a vassal or a chivalrous family,” indicates Luc Bourgeois. “There was a defensive and symbolic side to these castle mottes, to see and be seen« .

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