Forteresse de thil - fROM 886AD

 

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The road that can be seen in the middle of the image, viewed from the vantage point of the Forteresse de Thil, is the A6 - the Paris to St Tropez Highway, which passes through Burgundy on its way to the south. Sun seekers probably cast no more than a glance at the piles of stones on the hill, just after the turning for Semur-en-Auxois.  However embodied in these walls is all the history of this great region, and one intrepid French magician, has made it his life time project, to protect and preserve them.  

 

In years gone by, the A6 was known as the 'Muggers Highway'. It was the track taken by the wild men of the Morvan, to terrorise the civilised inhabitants of Dijon and Beaune.  Now the A6 takes the not quite so wild men to Dijon market, where they sell their excellent agricultural produce to the shoppers at Les Halles - Dijon's wonderful market.  The Morvan, where the Forteresse de Thil is situate, is now an area rich in biodynamic production.

A fort stood on the top of the hill from about the 2C. In later centuries changes were made, and in 886 AD reference is made to an important Chateau on the site. It is believed that this was constructed by one of the daughters of Charlemagne.  Remnants of these early edifices, were incorporated in the present construction, so for example Roman tiles can be seen in the fire back of one of the remains of a first floor 12c chimney. See the image below.

Occupying a vantage point on the top of the hill, the thickness of the walls testifies to the solid defence capabilities, and with 360 degree views of the surrounding plains, hostile forces would seen afar.  The watch tower has apparently been increased in height over the years, and the present tower stands at some 25m 

The cellars date back to the 12c, and there is a record of the then owner contributing to the construction of the Cistercian Abbey at Fontenay at the end of the 11c.

The Thil family's ownership can be traced from 1007 AD to 1507, when the line disappeared. The family were important in Burgundy  - in 1340 Jean II Thil was named Chief of the army of the Duc de Bourgogne Eudes IV.  More recently, in 2007 the ruins were purchased by French Magician Percival Verdon, who now, together with his girlfriend Catherine, devote their time, money and energy to preserving this fascinating insight into the architecture and history of one of the most important sites in Burgundy.

Commanding views from the Fort

Commanding views from the Fort

The ancient battlements

The ancient battlements

The magnificent 12C wall and window

The magnificent 12C wall and window

Works carried out by the present owners

Works carried out by the present owners

The Watch Tower

The Watch Tower

aerial view of Thil

aerial view of Thil

Roman tiles form the fireback of this chimney at first floor level.

Roman tiles form the fireback of this chimney at first floor level.

Just enough room to fire an arrow.

Just enough room to fire an arrow.

The Collegiale founded by Jean Thil II in 1340

The Collegiale founded by Jean Thil II in 1340