If you’re the King or Queen and you’re trying to run a castle, it’s going to take a lot of bread to keep everyone fed and a lot of sheets for all of those beds. Why not build a mill that will grind all of that wheat and turn all of those threads into cloth. If you’re lucky enough to have a powerful river running near by, as we do through Carcassonne, you can use that force to run your mills if it doesn’t wash them away in the process. So how can you control a wide and forceful river? You create a diversion.
The manufacturing of cloth has long been associated with Carcassonne, probably going back to its founding in the mid-1200s. At that time a small part of the river Aude was diverted to supply power to the mill, initially to grind wheat and later to produce cloth. According to a publication from this region’s cultural affairs office, the king was paid a tax for each piece of cloth that was manufactured but it looks like there was plenty of money left over to build an impressive residence for the mill’s owner.
At least a couple of times each day we take a walk along this diverted part of the river and here you can see what we pass by all the time plus a bonus that was waiting for us this weekend. The mills were converted into condos/apartments in 1983 but you can see where the water still enters the buildings where grain was ground and cloth was made. At the top of this blog post you can see the Blue Heron who was standing in the pond just in front of the former mills this past Sunday. This bird’s fish dinner was clearly visible to us from our vantage point on the bridge above. Guess who bought a fishing pole and license today?