La Roque Saint-Christophe en Dordogne » Unusual demonstrations of medieval lifting equipment at La Roque Saint-Christophe in Périgord Noir

Unusual demonstrations of medieval lifting equipment at La Roque Saint-Christophe in Périgord Noir

The medieval fortress of La Roque Saint-Christophe is equipped (on its Grande Terrasse) with several scale reproductions of lifting machines from medieval times. Built by real builders specialising in these impressive machines from the past, they are functional and really work! Demonstrations are offered during guided tours (be careful, some tours, not all!), giving you an unprecedented opportunity to see a drum winch turning, a capstan being lifted, or an outrigger crane being used.

Real, life-size medieval lifting gear

These are not scale models, hamster versions or miniatures! The medieval lifting machines at La Roque Saint-Christophe are real working replicas! They were built according to the rules of the trade by builders specialising in typical medieval techniques and architecture. Made of wood, they are both impressive and beautiful. Functional, they were even used to transport materials to the Grande Terrasse during the development of La Roque Saint-Christophe! It’s easy to see why our ancestors were so interested in these machines. Imagine having to transport planks, tiles and other building materials up the stairs and through the rock tunnel at the entrance to the terrace!

enfant engins de levage

See demonstrations of lifting machines

Our guides will take you on guided tours to show you how these medieval lifting machines worked. Expect a lot of fun and laughter! They’ll take you inside the squirrel cage (the drum winch), and maybe offer to take you inside too! They’ll put the incredible strength of these machines to the test (you could lift up to 7 times your own weight), pulling up a barrel or moving a heavy stone with the minimum of effort.

The capstan (different from the knot of the same name), depending on its size, could lift up to 2 tonnes of material; it could be horizontal or vertical.

The outrigger crane used the force of the counterweight to move loads effortlessly.

The shaft winch was used to lift water or ore. It is driven by cranks, and very heavy loads can be hauled to the top of the terrace!

Children are invited to take part in the demonstrations, to move a stone or turn a shaft, each taking their place at the end of a rope. A visit that will live long in the memory!