Sunday, May 25, 2014

New vision of a medieval structure

I’ve spoken already of Rochechinard Castle in a blog post of 23 February 2009 entitled Fabulous legends [display] and in another post of 14 November 2011 entitled Ruins of a medieval castle [display].

Click to enlarge

For the moment, Louis Arquer and his companions are toiling courageously within this environment with the intention of preventing the ruins from crumbling any further. This is a relatively modest goal, of course, with respect to the vastly more complex and costly challenge of attempting, at some undetermined time in the future, to actually restore the castle.

The drone is a potentially valuable device in that it should be able to provide Louis and his team with closeup views of parts of the castle that would not normally be accessible. They are particularly concerned by the great cylindrical tower in the center of the domain. Its ceiling (covered by tarpaulins held in place by an array of old tyres) is still basically intact, but stones are constantly working loose and dropping dangerously onto the earthen floor inside the tower. So, Louis asked Hakim whether it was imaginable that the drone might be able to hover up alongside the inside walls of the tower, to inspect the state of the stones. And Hakim was prepared to give it a go. The results were quite amazing.

In large areas of the upper walls, the builders have inserted assemblages of tiny flat stones with no apparent trace of mortar whatsoever. It’s probable that these sections were transformed or rebuilt well after the initial construction of the tower, and that the small flat stones were a convenient means of filling up irregular gaps. 

Just below the ceiling, there’s an interesting array of pigeon holes, which were surely inserted into the wall at a time when the interior of the tower comprised half-a-dozen floors. As a child, Louis liked to imagine that, if only he were able to gain access to these pigeon holes, he would surely discover that they were filled with golden coins, hidden there by wealthy medieval lords.

Hakim’s drone revealed, alas, that this mythical treasure has been replaced by dust.

Down towards the base of the tower, great windows looked out onto the splendid rolling hills of the Royans.

At the ground level, Louis and I admired the masterly manner in which Hakim succeeded in bringing his tiny aircraft back down to earth.

Throughout all the flight operations in and around the castle, Hakim was assisted by Emmanuelle, who was following the drone’s trajectory in real time by means of a small video screen.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the drone images do in fact provide Louis and his companions with a new vision of parts of the ruins.

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