The Guédelon project was dreamed up as an exercise in “experimental archaeology” 25 years ago. Instead of digging down it has been built upward, using only the tools and methods available in the Middle Ages and, wherever possible, locally sourced materials. Now, in an unforeseen twist of fate, Guédelon is playing a vital role in restoring the structure and soul of Notre Dame cathedral.
The biggest challenge is hand-hewing each beam, rather than using a sawmill.
Stéphane Boudy is one of a small team of carpenters at the medieval site, where he has worked since 1999. Boudy, 51, trained as a baker, then an electrician, until discovering his vocation at Guédelon. He explains how hand-hewing each beam – a single piece from a single tree – respects the “heart” of the green wood that gives it its strength and resistance.
“This isn’t just nostalgia. If Notre Dame’s roof lasted 800 years, it is because of this. There’s no heart in sawmill wood,” he says.
I was intrigued by the ‘heart’ of the wood, especially after watching Beau Miles video on saving wood from landfill. I wonder how much heart goes into much in today’s day and age?