James was the tour guide for my group Saturday afternoon; he is knowledgeable, funny, and makes history seem far from dusty. Here he's demonstrating how a rope with 13 knots is used by craftsmen to measure lengths (it's also handy for right angles, roof pitches, and more):
The trebuchet and the "Greek crane" (human hamster wheel) are fully operational, and the crane is used by the craftsmen building the castle.
Despite sunburn, heat, my bottle running dry 'cause I kept swigging, and a touch of heat exhaustion after a few hours of exploration, I can't wait to go back -- maybe in the fall when the temperature's closer to 70 than 100, and the humidity feels more like a damp windbreaker than a thick wet coat. I may just bring a van-load of kids from the Boys & Girls Club, too.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in history or various crafts, anything from basket weaving to blacksmithing, quarrying to stone dressing, pottery to rope-making, and all manner of other skills necessary to the construction and operation of a medieval fortress.
Note: The bellows in use by a blacksmith on the site is the same as the one I described in Dragon's Rook, first manuscript in a fantasy cycle I am still writing. It was encouraging to see that I described it correctly, and even cooler to see it in action. Here's a shot of the bellows just after the smith released the rope (on the right), which was still swinging when I snapped the photo:
all photos c. Keanan Brand