Interview with Philippe Bon
OnBourges: Where does this passion come from?
Phillip Good: I think I fell into it, without being the well-known comic book character! I started archeology when I was 10, I did several years of excavations in Bourges around the cathedral and the rue des Trois Maillets. Then I was sent to Néris-les-Bains, then to Le Pègue in the Drôme on a protohistoric site, and there, it was decided, it will be archaeology!
OnBourges: Mehun-sur-Yèvre, is it the call of the heart?
Phillip Good: I am a country boy. I studied history and archeology, very varied excavations, especially in Italy or Tunisia. But everything brought me back to Mehun.
OnBourges: How long ago did you start digging on this site?
Phillip Good: At first, they were made with a lot of goodwill and everyone's efforts. Then in the 80s they were taken up in a finer way. There were lots of questions, we try to answer them. This allowed us to understand that there is not just one castle, Mehun-sur-Yèvre is twelve castles stacked on top of each other!
OnBourges: What makes it so exceptional?
Phillip Good: This is a major site for many reasons! It is a very vertical and original castle. Some techniques used for construction are very avant-garde for their time. Ribs of vaults, bottoms of steps that drown in the wall a century ahead here; the beginnings of flamboyant Gothic 10/15 years before his arrival in Paris there. Mehun is also a symbol of an aborted Arab-Spanish Renaissance. It is a Renaissance castle before its time. It also has many labels that give us great visibility: Historic Monument since 1840, Ville et Métiers d'Art, Route Johannique and Jacques Cœur, Plus beaux Détours de France...
OnBourges: That makes lives for a single site… and in a magnificent setting!
Phillip Good: The history of the Château goes from around 820 to 1475! The green setting was an essential factor in its positioning, and in its various functions. Three quarters of the circumference of the site were meadows and marshes where the Yèvre passes. The water was first nourishing, then defensive, and finally for pleasure. At the time of Jean de Berry and then Charles VII, it was a retreat castle with steam rooms, gardens-promenades and a menagerie.
OnBourges: We could listen to you for hours like that, but now we would like to know a little about the future of the castle, what will it look like?
Phillip Good: The next step, the major project of the City of Mehun, is the restoration of the West tower and the integration of the cellars into the tourist mediation process with a commented route. The studies are in progress, everyone agrees to launch the project. Volunteers from the archaeological association could even have the rare chance of presenting the results of their research during their lifetime! Otherwise, there are the studies of the collections, the Pôle de la Porcelaine just next door which is part of the same entity “Musée Charles VII”. And the various syntheses being written on the history of Mehun by placing the castle in a national context. I have “25 caps”, all very mixed and very linked!
OnBourges: With all these memories, is there one that particularly comes back to you?
Phillip Good: The end of the excavations in 2001. They ended in a high point with a major symposium “The Castle and Art”. A unique moment! 250 enthusiasts who gather in Mehun to talk about history and archeology. There was no more confrontation, just complementarity. It was a great time, with remarkable written acts!
A Tour in the Dungeon of Wonders
To learn even more about the history of the Castle, we advise you to follow the guide to the heart of the dungeon. You will not be held prisoner, but well accompanied along several rooms exhibiting the collections of the excavations and certain explanatory works. Miniatures, fragments of a statue of a knight 6 meters high, rare turquoise floor tiles or surprising porcelain lithophanies. And surprise, 168 steps higher, the terrace offers a panorama of the surroundings, up to the Cathedral of Bourges!