Chateaux of Hauts-de-France

Château de Pierrefonds

The Château de Pierrefonds includes most of the characteristics of defensive military architecture from the Middle Ages, though it underwent a major restoration in the 19th century. In the 12th century, a castle was built on this site. Two centuries later, in 1392, King Charles VI turned the County of Valois (of which Pierrefonds was part) into a Duchy and gave it to his brother Louis, Duke of Orléans. From 1 ...
Founded: 1393 | Location: Pierrefonds, France

Château de Flers

The Château de Flers is located in Villeneuve d'Ascq, in the Nord department of France.  The château, completed in 1661, is very characteristic of the Flemish architecture of the 17th century. From 1667 to 1747, it belonged to the De Kessel family, the Seigneurs of Flers. In 1747, Philippe André de Baudequin, seigneur of Sainghin, obtains the seigneurie of Flers and the château from his De Kessel cousin. In 1770, Mar ...
Founded: 1661 | Location: Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France

Château de Septmonts

In the heart of the Septmonts village lies the remains of the Château de Septmonts, of which the principal remains are of the 14th century donjon or keep. The castle was the country seat of the Bishop of Soissons, probably since the last half of the 12th century and was first built in stone a little before 1242. Thought to have been inspired by the works of Charles V of France, the 43 metre tall donjon, exemplifies the ...
Founded: c. 1242 | Location: Septmonts, France

Château de Péronne

The first castle at this site of Château de Péronne was built at the end of the 9th century by Herbert I, Count of Vermandois, to replace a royal palace that had been burned down by Vikings in 884 AD. In 1191 the castle was again made a royal domain. In 1209 the castle was completely rebuilt by Philip II of France into a more-or-less pentagonal shaped stronghold flanked by circular towers and commanded by a large circu ...
Founded: 1209 | Location: Péronne, France

Château de La Ferté-Milon

In La Ferté-Milon stand the ruins of an unfinished castle, whose façade was 200 m long and 38 m high. The first castle was erected already in the 9th century AD, but the current structure dates from 1393, when Louis of Orléans started to reconstruct a strong castle. It was cancelled in 1407, when Louis was assassinated. The singular form of the tower walls was probably designed to resist cannons and protect the gate. ...
Founded: 1393 | Location: La Ferté-Milon, France

Château de Coucy

The Château de Coucy is a French castle in the commune of Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique, in Picardy, built in the 13th century and renovated by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. During its heyday, it was famous for the size of its central tower and the pride of its lords. The castle was constructed in the 1220s by Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy. The castle proper occupies the tip of a bluff or falaise. It forms ...
Founded: 1220s | Location: Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique, France

Château de Boulogne-sur-Mer

The Château de Boulogne-sur-Mer was built in the 13th century by Philippe Hurepel (1180-1234), count of Boulogne and son of Philip II of France. Following the death of his half-brother, king Louis VIII after a short three-year reign, Hurepel was one of the leaders of a rebellion against the regent, Blanche de Castille, mother of the minor Louis IX. He constructed castles at Calais and Hardelot and refortified Boulog ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

Château de Villers-Châtel

Château de Villers-Châtel, built in the 14th century, belonged to the lord of Gournai during the siege of Arras in 1414. The family Habarcq owned the castle until the middle of the 17th century. After several owners, Nicolas Mazel Leval bought the chateau in 1747 and restored it. During the World War I, the castle was converted into a field hospital.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Villers-Châtel, France

Château de Rambures

Château de Rambures was constructed in the Middle Ages in the style of a military fortress of the 15th century and was one of the first castles in Europe to be constructed almost exclusively in bricks. The castle is set in a park, the Parc et Roseraie du Château de Rambures containing a rose garden and ancient trees.The castle contains very interesting Picardy furniture from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The e ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Rambures, France

Château de Guise

Guise castle is a medieval fortification in the town of Guise, in northern France. Originally an early medieval wooden motte and bailey castle, it was rebuilt in stone and then massively expanded during the 12th-16th centuries. It was remodelled by Marquis de Vauban in the late 17th century to meet the advances in sIege technology then taking place. Much of the castle was reduced to rubble during the First World War and, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guise, France

Château de Château-Thierry

During the 8th century, Charles Martel kept king Theuderic IV prisoner in the castle of Otmus. At this time, the town took the name of Castrum Theodorici, later transformed in Château-Thierry (Castle of Thierry, Thierry is the French or early Roman language translation of Theuderic). In 946, the castle of Château-Thierry was the home of Herbert le-Vieux, Count of Omois of the House of Vermandois & Soissons. I ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Château-Thierry, France

Château d'Hardelot

Building located at Condette, the castle of Hardelot is a manor house remodeled in the 19th century in the neo Tudor style, on foundations from the first half of the 13th century. The first castle at this site was built in the 12th century by the Counts of Boulogne. The curtain walls date back to that time. The present castle was built by Philip I, Count of Boulogne and son of Philip II of France, in 1222. He also built ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Condette, France

Château de Montépilloy

Built around 1150 by Guy III le Bouteiller de Senlis, Château de Montépilloy dominates the county of Senlis, thanks to its formidable keep, probably the highest of the royal domain at the time of its construction (around 1190-1200). Testimony of a prestigious medieval past, the remains of the fortified castle include, in addition to the keep, an enclosure with a polygonal moat, an entrance gate through which one access ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Montépilloy, France

Château de Picquigny

Château de Picquigny was built around the beginning of the 11th century and rebuilt over the following centuries. It was severely damaged during World War I. The vestiges are still picturesque and imposing, nevertheless. Outside of the ramparts, there are other medieval buildings: a prison, a kitchen, two cellars, latrines and the Pavillon Sévigné.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Picquigny, France

Château de Bernicourt

The first Château de Bernicourt was built around 1374 but the current one dates from 1743.
Founded: 1743 | Location: Roost-Warendin, France

Château d'Esquelbecq

Château d"Esquelbecq was built in 1606 to the site of ancient fort from the 9th century. The square form castle with eight turrets is surrounded by moat and accessed by two bridges. Today Esquelbecq castle is privately owned and cannot be visited.
Founded: 1606 | Location: Esquelbecq, France

Château d'Olhain

The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century. The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is l ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Fresnicourt-le-Dolmen, France

Château de Potelle

Château de Potelle was built around 1290 by Gilles de Mortagne. It has been looted and damaged in wars (1477, 1654, 1712 and 1793). The last restoration was made in 1817. The gate house was erected in the 13th-14th centuries and may have been located to the site of ancient Roman castrum. The chapel was moved to the courtyard of in 1519. Today Château de Potelle is a private home.
Founded: 1290 | Location: Potelle, France

Donjon de Bours

Château or Donjon de Bours was most likely built in the 12th century by Hugues de Bours. Originally it would have had a bailey defended by a crenellated wall guarding several outbuildings. Both the bailey and the castle would have been moated. At present all traces of the bailey are gone. Bours Castle is a keep built out of sandstone and has a rectangular plan with six corbelled turrets. It has walls of 70 cm thick and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bours, France

Château de Fère-en-Tardenois

The Château de Fère-en-Tardenois is a ruined castle in the commune of Fère-en-Tardenois in the Aisne département. Construction of the original castle began in 1206. Little of that remains today. It had seven towers on an enormous artificial motte whose slopes were covered in slabs of sandstone and served as a model for numerous other castles. The connétable Anne de Montmorency, companion of Francis I, ...
Founded: 1206 | Location: Fère-en-Tardenois, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.