sUAS Multispectral Survey of the Historical Landscape of Chateau de Balleroy, Normandy, France

sUAS Multispectral Survey of the Historical Landscape of Chateau de Balleroy, Normandy, France

Jon W. Carroll
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.2020100104
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Chateau de Balleroy located in the Calvados region of Normandy, France played an important role in the career of François Mansart, popularizer of the “Mansard” roof. Historic architectural features, subsurface archaeological features, and graffiti were documented using drones and multispectral imagery. The analysis of these data enhances our understanding of how the people of Balleroy marked and modified the Chateau and its associated landscape at multiple sociospatial scales over the last four centuries.
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Chateau de Balleroy, located in the Norman countryside adjacent to the village bearing its name, was designed and built by the renowned French architect François Mansart (AD 1598-1666) (Wheeler, 1979:111). The seventeenth century chateau is nestled into the idyllic French countryside and has a discreet, yet powerful presence. Now a national historic property, Chateau de Balleroy (Figure 1) plays an important role in French architectural history as the earliest existing property designed by Mansart, popularizer of the “Mansard” roof (Braham and Smith, 1972:7; Gould and Blunt, 1945:248). François Mansart is also the great uncle of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, (AD 1646-1708) the architect who worked at Versailles under Louis XIV (AD 1638-1715) and who also had a decades-long working association with Andre Le Notre (AD 1613-1700), the legendary gardener of Versailles (Braham and Smith, 1972; Woodbridge, 1986:175). The Chateau and the surrounding landscape have stood through four centuries of tumultuous history that could have resulted in its demise at any point. Still, the chateau and surrounding landscape remain important for people to visit and connect with its history.

This discussion centers on how multispectral imaging technologies used at multiple scales and in different contexts help reveal clues about life at the chateau over the centuries. The purpose of this investigation is threefold: 1. to use drone-acquired multispectral imagery of the chateau and surrounding landscape for creating high-resolution orthophotos and topographic modeling; 2. to use multispectral drone-acquired imagery explicitly for the purposes of non-destructive archaeological prospection of the pre-revolutionary formal gardens; 3. to conduct photogrammetric recordation and analysis of graffiti that marks the property both within and outside the chateau. The advent of powerful and increasingly affordable tools like drone-acquired and terrestrial multispectral imagery provides us with the ability to conduct nondestructive surveying quickly and efficiently.

The history of Balleroy is both rich and complex, and it requires a multidimensional research approach if we are to illuminate the experiences of the people who have lived their lives on this landscape. The research presented here is part of an overarching research agenda using geospatial technologies to understand the heritage of Balleroy while simultaneously engaging in digital cultural resource documentation and preservation. Readers should note that the prominent historical overview preceding the methodological discussion seeks to elucidate several inaccuracies related to the history of the chateau as encountered primarily through the English language literature.

Figure 1.

The Chateau de Balleroy, Calvados, Normandy, France


Historical Overview

Chateau de Balleroy was commissioned by the Choisy family in the mid-1620’s and completed in the mid-1630’s, although attribution for its commission oscillates between either Jean I (AD 1525-?) or Jean II de Choisy (AD 1575-1652), and a precise date range for construction also lacks consensus (Braham and Smith, 1972:196; Gould and Blunt, 1945:248; Wheeler, 1979:111; Woodbridge, 1986:171). The official chateau tour guidebook credits Jean II with construction between 1631-1636 (Chateau de Balleroy, 2018:2; Forbes, 1989:180). The chateau is architecturally significant for having a number of pioneering design characteristics popularized by Mansart. Balleroy is credited (Braham and Smith, 1973:23) as the first of Mansart’s creations to feature a “Mansard Roof,” a roof that has two-tiered sloping walls that become steeper at the lower tier (Figure 1). It was also the first Mansart creation to feature a suspended staircase that frames a four-sided open space from floor to ceiling (Gould and Blunt, 1945:251) (Figure 2).

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