Thursday, 21 February 2008

Castelnaud Castle

Our routines are now well established: Wednesday = no school = mini-adventure.

We presented the kids with quite a few options.. all they wanted to do was visit more castles. Which is just as well as we still have quite a few to get through.  So we headed north, 20Kms, to Castelnaud Castle, which overlooks the Dordogne river within sight of its arch rival Beynac Castle (the subject of a previous blog).

Brief History:
The barons of Beynac were semi-permanently in conflict with the lords of Castelnaud. During the Hundred Years War Castelnaud sided with the English in conflict again with Beynac down the river.

In 1442, tired of the English hold on Castelnaud, the King of France ordered the town put under siege. The siege lasted three weeks. The English commander ended it by giving the keys to the castle and 400 crowns for his life. Thus the English were finally driven from Castelnaud. They left French soil after the battle of Castillon (1452) which marked the end of the Hundred Year's War.

In around 1520 an artillery tower was added to the castle but by then castles had lost their military significance. It is still a pretty cool feature though. 

Well we went up and down a few. Poor James, each step is like 30cm, so he has to climb his own height every 3 steps. Here is a good shot of him complaining.

This staircase was in the artillery tower, as you see they are near vertical.

James Stairs

Early Gun

This 16th century gun looks pretty mean but I wonder how effective it was in battle.

West View

There were some great views from the top of the castle. This first one was looking east out over the Dordogne river.

On the other side of the Castle, looking down the river to north-east, you can see Beynac Castle quite clearly.  It is easy to imagine the old foes staring at each other across the river. This shot was taken at 6x magnification.

We had a good look around and left not long before closing time.  I found it very interesting to see how the castle had been altered as a result of the introduction of gunpowder/artillery.

All up we had a really good inexpensive day. There were many more pictures of the castle as this entry is already quite large I'll sign off here and head off to bed.


Castelnaud Castle (from the North)


View from the car park with the village in the foreground.


Looking through one of the gun ports. The walls of the artillery tower must be 3 metres thick.


Henry takes aim.

James Door

James found this cool door "only for little kids", it was locked unfortunately.


Jack explaining how the "mangonel" worked.   Henry is looking for the lever to pull. 

Birkenhead Soccer Success

image Great news for our local (NZ) football club, Birkenhead United.  The under 16 team won the Presidents Cup tournament in Phoenix, USA.

This team was in full fund-raising mode last year for this trip and the older boys spent time coaching Jack's age group in the off-season.  This involved 3 on 3 games which were great for developing ball skills.  Jack's team did very well and just missed out on getting into the final.

Read more about the U16 team exploits here.