Apr. 20th, 2012

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I've described the two sets of ramparts that form the defences at Carcassone, and have described them as being virtually impregnable. 

The entrances were of course the major sites of weakness.  But the early fourteenth century builders did their best to make the work of any besieging forces as difficult as possible.  The two sets of defences converge at the Bishop's Tower, which is of course bristling with features such as arrow-slots and machicholations (projecting openings in the wall through which noxious or dangerous substances can be hurled onto potential attackers). 

The view below is taken from one of the gatehouses near the castle.  Once again, the crenallations on top of the wall have been rebuilt:- 





Here's a view from the opposite direction, looking back towards the gatehouse, in a view where the complexity of the approach is very evident :-




An additional defence was built to protect the fortified city from river-borne assault.  The course of the River Aude has changed since the city was first founded: originally, it flowed much closer to the city walls and as a result, specific features were built to control access from the river.  A walled corridor runs down from the castle providing access to a circular barbican - the Aude Barbican - which stood next to the river.  This defensive feature, known as a caponier, was equipped with arrow-slots to allow the resident garrison to pick off any attackers from a position of relative safety.  Once again, the crenellations are part of Le Duc's restoration.




Le Duc wanted to restore the barbican to its former glory.  In the end, this part of the project was never implemented.  Instead, the good citizens of Carcassone were instead granted a new church - it may look medieval, but it's actually nineteenth century.  The original site of the Aude Barbican can still be identified as the circular wall to the rear of the church.


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