A Handmade Medieval Castle in Arkansas

A Living History Book, an Outdoor Laboratory

03/31/2010
historic places

Have you ever wanted to take your kids to a construction site where the “beep beep beep” of machines backing up is replaced by the ting ting ting of hammer to anvil and chisel to stone? Show them something that is not moving at warp speed?

 

A new build attraction with a twist, is slowly taking shape on a site about halfway between Little Rock, Ark., and Springfield, Mo., and close to Branson, Mo.

A life-sized 13th century fortified castle is raising with 45 foot high towers, five foot wide walls, a drawbridge and stone walls surrounding the inner expansive courtyard using the techniques, materials and rules of the Middle Ages.

 

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Twenty masons, carpenters and stone carvers dressed in authentic garments will work right in front of you to build the genuine fortified castle, over a 20 year time span.

Visitors will be able to watch the castle going up one stone at a time. And if they want to ask questions, then it is also part of the craftsmen’s job to answer.

Twenty masons, carpenters and stone carvers dressed in authentic garments will work right in front of you to build the genuine fortified castle, over a 20 year time span.

This area of the United States is known for its attractions moving at a slower pace, closer to reality with a historic appeal. We are taking it back even further to the Middle Ages. A place that is not easily accessible in Northern America, a place that is rarely visited by most American school children in the classroom.

We are bringing the Medieval Occident to Arkansas, for you to see, hear touch, explore and inquire about. This is a natural country side that would have lent itself well to the building of a Fortress; with its stone, clay and forest. The materials needed, are found right here.

Time travel to a day in the Middle Ages where your life revolves around the construction of this castle and the Lord who will reside in it protecting you.

The 13th century is a time period that intrigues us incessantly. It is not yet the Renaissance, the Black Plague or Hundred Years War have not arrived, it is not the “Dark Ages.”

The time of Louis IX, Medieval construction was at its peak. Castles were first for defense, but also for prestige. But, without that feudal history occurring here on North American soil, we are not naturally privy to the the how’s and why’s of medieval construction. We don’t see gothic arches when we walk down the street, arrow slits still existing in the walls we pass on a daily basis. We don’t usually find ourselves asking what techniques were used to stabilize a 45 foot tower.

We do, however, dream of castles. For the first time on American soil, we will be able to dissect Medieval architecture in a fun way, ask how and why certain architectural techniques came about. Imagine determining why the walls were so thick by actually lancing a stone 150 feet in the air with a real catapult!! Then we understand!

At Ozark Medieval Fortress you will not learn just what was happening on festivals days. But, rather, what was happening on a daily basis in the Middle Ages. It is a reason and a grand opportunity to explore a time period in depth; to touch, see and manipulate a stone edifice without going to Europe; an open reverse-archaeological site at your disposal. You don’t have to wonder any more “what that person is doing over there and why.” You can go and talk to him while he is working, discover what he is discovering and be shown first hand.

Experts will mingle with novices, as it was in the Middle Ages working together on an edifice that will take 20 years to build. Only now, in hindsight, our questions could be different. “What impact did the Middle ages have ecologically?” Or, “what if they would have tried another method, would it have worked as well?” “Did they understand the geology where they put their buildings and not just put them there out of convenience?”

What questions will you have? Everyone’s experience of this amazing endeavor will be different, even refreshing everytime you visit, because the castle will be ever evolving, different stages of construction every year, different people in exchange about different subjects. Every season a new feat will be attempted.

Come with us on an exciting educational adventure. Bring your picnic and your boots and you will discover a marvelous world!

Ozark Medieval Fortress offers to educators of all levels and subjects, a fascinating, visual, open air classroom focused on the Middle Ages.

Interpretative programs and guided tours adapted to all age groups are available.

For information call 870-436-7635 or visit our teacher’s page at http://ozarkmedievalfortress.com.

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Issue 16.1 | Spring 2014

Southeast Education Network

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