Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Castles of the Cathars - Puilaurens, Part II

The second in a series of three articles following a journey from Carcassonne to Foix undertaken by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle and his wife Annick in 2018.

Entrance to the donjon precinct

Puilaurens stands upon a rocky ridge at an altitude of 697 metres on Mont Ardu and is remarkable even among Cathar castles. The castle is located above the Boulzane Valley and the villages of Lapradelle and Puilaurens.

LEFT: Donjon viewed from the courtyard
RIGHT: Annick framed by the postern gate, note 'bossed' masonry and 'shouldered lintel'

During the Albigensian Crusade of the 1240s, Puilaurens was fortified by the Cathars but escaped attack as standing in what was then Aragon. After the crusade the French took possession and to keep the Spanish out greatly improved the defences. Much of what stands today is of this later date.

Curtain walling of Puilaurens with the donjon visible in the far distance

What strikes one, apart from the situation, is the quality of the stonework. The masonry is ‘bossed’ reminiscent of the Crusader castles in the Holy Land. The extensive curtain walling hugs the cliff edge and at the highest point is situated the donjon. Strategically placed arrow slits cover the approaches.

LEFT: Note the 'bossed' stonework and 'fish-tail' arrow slit
RIGHT: Caught in a cloudburst at 697m is not fun!

Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 23 Feb 2023 Updated: 13 Oct 2023
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