This castle shows early design features, but is quite 'empty' compared to the bustle of Cabaret.  The 'south spine' is poorly preserved and may be the oldest castle here.  Certainly it is the highest of all the castles at Lastours as well as being the one with the most Romanesque features.  It is also a castle that may have originally been under the direct control of the counts of Carcassonne before 1153.

Standing at the highest point of Lastours is an odd hall block structure.  At its centre is a narrow rectangular cistern flanked to north and south by two irregular rectangular towers.  It is difficult to work out whether the north or the south tower is oldest.  The south tower is about 20' square with the south face marginally longer than the north face.  It consists of 3 storeys, the lowest being an unlit basement.  The NW corner has collapsed as also has the south wall above basement height.  The first floor has a flattened round headed loop to the east as its only light, although there appears to be a wall cupboard to the north.  Presumably an entrance was to the south at this level, but this wall of the tower was demolished when the cistern was built alongside and this and the upper level apparently made into one room.  At the summit was a large room with a big Romanesque light to the east and north.  The northern light was rectangular, but the eastern one has gone. 

The surviving corners to the NE and NW were built of quoins and were joined by a randomly coursed rubble wall about 5' thick.  The E&W walls are similar, but there is no quoining at the SE and SW corners.  Possibly these were removed when the cistern was inserted.  The tower rests on the slightest of plinths to the west which is set on bedrock.  The other sides are buried.

The cistern, about 9' across, lies south of the north tower and makes a poor butt joint with it to E&W.  The basement is full of rubble, but it still has a partially surviving barrel vault at first floor level.  The upper levels seem to have made single rooms with the north tower.

South of the cistern is a larger rectangular tower.  This is 25' by 20' with walls again about 5' thick.  The southern portion of the tower has collapsed to its foundations.  It was entered at ground floor via a rebuilt doorway which is reached via modern steps running up the west face
of the tower to the south.  This was enclosed by a small rectangular forebuilding built against the wall curtain.  Within the tower there is a singular large opening to the west at this level.  On the interior side of this is a fine Romanesque arch.  The exposed east wall of the tower has a fine stepped plinth at the base.  This style is often recognised as early.  Presumably one of these two rectangular towers was 'the castle' allowed to be built by Roger and Bernard Cabaret in Surdespine castle by Count Raymond Trencavel of Carcassonne in 1153.

An irregular thin curtain, largely only 3' thick, follows the rock to make a ward.  To the west this stands 30' tall as a revetment of the rock to make an acceptably level ward.  To the south the wall still has some battlements and the remnants of the hole in the wall entrance with barbican.  The current corner entrance from the north seems to be modern.  At some time a lean to building lay against the north face of the keep as can be seen by its shadow and the remnants of its rectangular foundations.  The ward is supposed to be seventeenth century, but the castle appears terribly weak without its defences and again this looks terrible weak as such a late date artillery defence as is noted at Cabaret castle.

Why not join me here and at other French castles?  Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry

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