Castles are not an uncommon sight in many parts of the world; in France, you’ll find them dotting the countryside. Germany’s Rhine River is speckled with the former holdings of the robber-barons of old. You can find castles in Romania, Italy, England, and…Arkansas?
Yes, you read that right. Solagne and Jean-Marc Mirat, a French couple who moved to the United States 20 years ago, are spearheading a project to build a 13th-century style castle in Arkansas’s Ozark Mountains. The Mirats contacted Michel Guyot, who worked on a similar project in France’s Burgundy region, to oversee the construction.
Ground was broken on the project in 2009. Since then, 30 authentically dressed masons, carpenters and stone carvers have been working – in true 13th-century style – to construct the medieval fortress. And they aren’t cutting any corners; they’ve got horse-drawn wagons and chisels, even a human-powered treadwheel crane to lift and lower materials. Accordingly, the castle won’t be completed until 2030, but it’s open to the public (for a rate of $18) during construction. To ensure authenticity, the architectural team is working with historians and scientists at each step of the way.
The fortress is meant to be authentic historical and educational experience. The workers spend part of their day addressing visitors’ questions, and there are interpretive programs and tours available. The project is only a couple years into construction, so it doesn’t look like much more than a few stacks of bricks, but when it’s completed, it will be America’s first medieval fortress.
You can read more about the Ozark Medieval Fortress, including some of the unique and authentic methods being used in construction, at ozarkmedievalfortress.com.