We can wonder why such a castle was built on flat ground, whereas, during the Middle-Age, barons preferred building their keep on natural escarpments.

So, if this formidable fortress was indeed built, it was precisely done because it provided vital protection for a haven comprising a coastal band, which offered a natural anchorage for vessels, such as the Esnèques used by the Vikings in the 9th century.

It is therefore of no surprise that a, still very popular local legend tells the very story of the Scandinavian invasions. And the legend goes :

They considered the castle to be invincible and renounced the idea of capturing it by force, opting for forcing its inhabitants into famine through blockade. After an interminable siege, they remarked the deadly silence which reigned within the castle walls. Suspicious of a crafty stratagem, they waited an entire day before, the following morning, attempting to scale the castle walls. The castle was deserted. All they found was a haggard old man, to whom they promised freedom if he agreed to reveal what had become of the Sire de Pirou (the Lord), his family and his garrison. The old man explained that, with the help of a “grimoire”, an old book of magic spells, the Lord and his kin had transformed themselves into wild geese to escape their assailants. Indeed, the Normans remembered having seen, at dawn the previous day, a number of graylag geese take flight above the castle ramparts. It is common knowledge in old Norman tradition that any wizard who transforms himself into a beast must, in order to recover his human form, “unread”, in other words repeat backwards, the magic formula which enabled him to “goubliner” (transform himself).
Sometime later, the wild geese returned to find the book of spells which would allow them to “unread” the magic formula responsible for their “goublinage” (transformation). Alas, the Normans had burned the castle down, and the book of spells with it. They had no choice but to remain wild geese… However, ever since, they return to the castle each year in the springtime in the hope of finding, at last, the long-lost book of spells and, failing to do so, leave again each autumn.

The Grand Dictionnaire Historique de Moréri

The Grand Dictionnaire Historique de Moréri (18th century), after having recounted the legend by quoting the Mélanges d’Histoire et de Littérature by Vigneul-Marville (1699) adds, “That’s as far as the fable goes, but what we know for sure is that, on the night of the 1st March, each and every year, wild geese come to find the 18 to 20 nests that the castle inhabitants carefully prepare for them at the foot of the ramparts, using straw and hay. When all of the nests are occupied, a further 6 or 7 are prepared on the top of the castle walls, and they are never vacant for very long. These geese, which generally cannot be approached and closer than six hundred paces without taking flight, when in the fields, cease to be wild “for the love of their host”, and when in the castle, come to eat bread and oats from our very hands. They lay their eggs in March, brood in April and their little gosling hatch in May…”
In one of the edition’s 1725 issues, a marginal note added in 1753 by Mr. Ducanet states, “Over the last few years, these geese have not appeared, they have been progressively destroyed, because of the great damage they caused in the “campagnes” (In the 18th century, “campagnes” referred to open cultivated fields). The presence of these migratory birds is most likely at the origin of the legend ; however the fact that it also claims to be linked to the Scandinavian invasions is, in all probability, a noteworthy matter of fact. Any legend can indeed encompass details of true historical events. But the legend was no doubt already an ancient one when, in the 14th century, Robert de Pirou added the neck of a goose as a crest to adorn the helmet on his coat of arms.
In 1975, in a quest to acclimatize graylag geese once more to the region and to encourage their migration, the Zwin ornithological reserve, located close to the Belgian and Dutch border, agreed to entrust us with fifteen birds which were freed in the castle moat. Unfortunately, they were annihilated by poachers.

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Established in a Viking site, Pirous’ fortified castle was founded in the 12th century. The old legend of the geese is one of the most popular in the Cotentin ; it pretends to link the origin of the castle to the Scandinavian invasions.

A fortified castle dates from the 12th century...

Situated in the region of Coutances, it is situated in 8km in the southwest of Lessay and in 1,2km of the beach.

Artisanal goods

Come to discover a set of goods issued from the artisanal work of Normand monasteries and abbeys and somewhere else….

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