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The BARBICAN:

The late 15th century.

(This word is based on an Arabic term meaning bulwark securing an access to the castle).

This huge work in half moon represents a powerful shield (4 feet thick) in front of the nearest hill but it also provides a sluice enabling entrances and exits at the same time. The barbican is a gate to escape from cannonballs and the handling of the ram’s head. A stage with wild fire gunboats, then a path leading to higher gunboats. The Barbican of Bonaguil contributed to the domestic economy as well, with the JUNKYARD, the DOVECOTE and the transit between the FARMYARD and the COURTYARD.

 

The JUNKYARD:

The late 15th century.

This lower chamber under a pointed barrel vault used to be a dumping ground in the 16th and the 17th centuries. The archaeological excavation made there in 1973 revealed a large amount of daily life testimonies: the remains of ceramics products, glassware, food scraps, etc... And even toys reminding that Bonaguil was indeed a lively place.

 

The DOVECOTE: 

The late 15th century – the early 16th century.

Also, artillery tower (gunboat). The dovecote (pigeonhole when it wasn’t adjacent to the castle), often represented an aristocratic privilege until the Revolution. The pigeons were served as food at the Lord table and the columbine helped produce a highly sought fertilizer. More than 400 nest holes are still visible. Below, there is a good-looking lower chamber under a semi dome vault, serving as an artillery unit and as a trap giving access to upper floors of which remains only the dovecote.

 

The FARMAYARD:

The late 15th century

The farmyard was entirely paved at the beginning as the courtyard, the dungeon platform and the watch paths (BIG TOWER, BARBICAN and north curtain) were, it is slightly dipping to the south enabling the drainage of rainwater. Six notches in the stone allowing to imagine a shelter (wildlife park, wood stockings and more) In the background, on the right, remains (a fluted column) of a fountain that used to receive water drained from the COURTYARD'S WELL with a pipe sloping in the wall and the stone.

 

The BAKEHOUSE:

The late 15th century

It is composed of a large oven to cook the bread (staple food, even in the castles) and, on its left, what seems to be a “tiny oven” which was actually used as an ashtray (the oven ashes would serve as fertilizer, but mainly useful to the laundry in the vat.) The bottom of the heating chamber consists of clinker to better restore the heat. The lintel of the hood is composed of seven arch stones locked with grips. Alongside, the door gives access to a narrow corridor leading to latrines (on the right), to the hatch of the silo as well as three gunboats.

 

The north east DEFENSE CHAMBER:

The late 15th century.

It maintains the access from the ditches to the COMMONS (three gunboats, a blowhole and a low door situated at more than one meter high from the ditch). The dome ceiling was made “in spiral”, on formwork and without keystone, according to a technic close to the vaults of shepherds’ hut (gariottes). The regularly spaced holes allowed the embedding of the scaffolding beams (boulins) and indicate the level of construction.

 

The CASEMATE:

The late 15th century

This term is originally from Spain (casa mata, which means killing house).

This long underground corridor, in a semi-circle, monitors the south east front (eight staged gunboats). The vault, in broken archway, made of formwork, represents one of the most remarkable demonstration of know-how from Bonaguil’s builders. The casemate ends on a narrow, screwed-in hallway, inside a delightful turret crowned by another spiral vault.

 

The CAVE:

The hollow of the “bonne aiguille”, from the 13th century to the late 15th century.

Constructed at the peak, from a natural cavity and accessible from the thirteen century through an opening still visible from the bottom of the left gallery, the cave represented a wonderful storage space and enabled the access, at the 15th century, to the inside of the sparrow (see number 9). The reddish-orange color at places not affected by the peak is due to the existence of iron oxide in Bonaguil limestone. Maybe Bonaguil cave had been occupied long before the Middle Ages…

 

The SPARROW (or caponier):

The late 15th century.

Sort of semi-circular blockhouses, this artillery work, leaning against the escarp, watch the bottom of the ditch by five gunboats. It offers, along with the CASEMATE, the BARBICAN and other elements, the evidence of modernism in Bonaguil’s defense. Its smooth slab roof, restored, allowed projectiles to ricochet from the north of the curtain wall. On this roof, the two vents were made to evacuate toxic fumes of “fire sticks”.

 

The BIG TOWER:

The late 15th century.

From about 40 meters high, until the Revolution, for walls of 4 meters at the base, the big Tower of Bonaguil was one of the most important of the Kingdom, at the time it was built. Located above the village, it was made for “the watch” as well as the artillery (two lower chambers) and the dwelling (three higher chambers). The belt of consoles in reverse pyramids (Breton type) enhances the elegance. There is a large set of 16th and 17th centuries graffiti on the plaster of the level four room.

 

The TERRACE:

The 18th century.

Contemporary version of the terrace of the castle of Fumel. It was elaborated on the 15th century walls by Marguerite of Fumel, the last chatelaine of Bonaguil between 1761 and 1788, who also has a Garden “à la française” arranged there, both for the walk and to be admired from the high windows of her house. In the distance, the Thézou Valley seems to be an extension, less tamed, of the garden.

On the castle side, interesting rivalry of volumes: BIG TOWER, SQUARE TOWER and RED TOWER.

 

The CHICANE:

The late 15th century.

Inside this small half-moon structure, a narrow zigzag hall filtered the pedestrian movements between village and castle. Three successive doors and a face-height-gunboat later and still not inside the castle yet…We want the villager to enter…but not that fast. Moreover, a roof of lauzes restored.

 

The SQUARE TOWER:

The late 15th century.

Constructed on the entrances of the 13th century Castle, it allowed access between ditches and lords’ chambers. Door in height, with inverted hinge and barrier hole, formerly controlled by a drawbridge. Four levels, the third reserved to the lord chapel (or oratory), indicated on the outside by its trilobed window.

 

The ENTRANCES and BASEMENTS of LORDS’ SPACES:

The 13th and 15th centuries.

One has access to lords’ lodgings though a gothic-style-door that overcoming a small day transformed into a gunboat. On the left, there is a wide room partly over the rock (the old wine cellar?). On the right, there are two basements in row where dominates the rock leading to the Red Tower.

 

The LIVING SPACES of LORDS’ DWELLINGS:

The 13th and 15th centuries.

On the right, from the wooden footbridge, one has a view on Marguerite de Fumel’s chambers (from 1712 to 1788.) The flamboyant gothic-style-fireplace (from the 15th century) is the most decorated, most beautiful of the Castle. Changed by Marguerite, it was no longer visible at the end of the 18th century, before 1793. A little further, at the end of the gateway, one has access to the oratory: trilobed windows and a vault on crossed ogives. On the left, at the height of courtyard of honor, the Great Hall, state room, heart of the lord life. In the background, one has access to the graffiti room, in the BIG TOWER (refer to comments on the desk.)

 

The COURTYARD of HONOR:

The 13th and 15th centuries.

Accessible from the Barbican, it gives access to the dungeon, the Lords’ lodgings, and originally, to the east wing of the Castle through the South apartments. Two connecting doors filled with pinnacles and topped with flowerets, make of Bonaguil a good example of the late Gothic. On the high curtain that protects the courtyard, the aliasing is only partly restored.

 

The WELL

The 15th century.

It is a 48 meters deeps and 2 meters in diameter well. Dipped at the peak of the rock, it is fed by seepage and surface waters. In the curbstone, the two notches serve as a device to raise the water (beams, pulleys, ropes and buckets of wood.) Behind the well, the small sink allowed the sending of water to the FARMYARD.

 

The KITCHEN:

The late 15th century.

Of the kitchen only remains some foundations, the threshold of a door, the base of the splaying of a window and the foundation wall of a fireplace. In the wall of the chimney, there is an enormous sandstone to accentuate the heat. The grinder wheels, part of the pavement, were undoubtedly brought back from communal old mills.

 

The DUNGEON:

The 13th century: front part in spur.

The 15th century:

Symbol, by its height, of the lord authority, place of urgency retreatment in case of a Coup over the Castle and its safe-deposit box but it occasionally served as a prison. There was an old access through a scale or wood stairs to arch doors and until the late 15th century, through stone stairway, straight and screwed. On the crossed arches of the last room, there is a superb monogram of Christ carved in low relief. From the platform, there is a charming top view of the Castle and on the surrounding well-preserved landscape.