Glossary – Castles
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Ablaq – Middle Eastern tradition of architectural decoration combining different coloured
stone, usually black basalt and white limestone.
Antemurabilus – Second or outer walls.
Ashlar – Stone cut into rectangular blocks and laid in regular rows.
Bailey – Fortified enclosure with a castle.
Balista – A crossbow, usually of a large form.
Barbican – Outer defensive enclosure of a castle or city, usually outside a gate.
Barrel vault – Vaulting in the form of an elongated arch.
Bastion – Projecting or additional part of a fortification.
Batter – Slope, usually on the outer face, of a fortified wall.
Bezant – High value Byzantine currency.
Boulevard – Low and extended platform to form an artillery emplacement in front of a
Bovaria – A farmstead or animal pen, sometimes fortified.
Breteche – Covered emplacement for cannon.
Castrum – Fortified enclosure, usually rectangular.
Chatelain – Commander of a castle.
Chemin de ronde – A raised walkway around the circuit or curtain-walls of a fortified place.
Concentric castle – A fortification with two or more circuit walls.
Corbel – Stone bracket to support another structure.
Counter-fort – A fortification, usually small, to blockade or isolate another fortification.
Cour d’honneur – Central or ceremonial court of a castle-palace.
Crenellation – Tooth-like projection along the top of a fortified wall to provide protection for
the defenders as well as spaces through which they can observe or shoot.
Curtain-wall – A continuous defensive wall around a fortified location.
Donjon – Main tower of a fortified losation, or a single isolated tower.
Double-castrum – Fortified enclosure with two concentric defensive walls.
Drawbridge – An entrance bridge, usually over a moat, which can be raised out of
position, usually also blocking the gate behind.
Eglise-donjon – A fortified church.
Embossed masonry – Blocks of stone in which the centre is raised and usually roughly cut.
Embrasure – An opening in a fortified wall, tower, crenellation or other structure through
which the defenders can shoot.
Enciente – A curtain wall.
Fausse braie – Low-walled outwork.
Fieldstones – Naturally available rocks or small boulders.
Forewalls – Additional defensive walls in front of the main defensive walls and towers.
Fosse – Defensive ditch.
Gallery – A passage, usually within a defensive wall, sometimes with embrasures through
which defenders can observe or shoot.
Glacis – Smooth open slope leading up to the base of a fortified wall.
Grange – A building to store agricultural produce, usually from a specific feudal fief.
Hoarding – A wooden structure in the form of a gallery mounted on top of, and also ahead of,
a defensive wall.
Huchette – A form of machicolation above an entrance.
Keep – The main tower of a fortified position (see also Donjon).
Machicolation – Overhanging structure on a tower or fortified wall, down which arrows could
be shot or missiles dropped.
Mangonel – A stone throwing siege weapon based upon the beamsling principle, either man
powered or counterweight powered.
March – A frontier province with a primary military-defensive function.
Masonry marks – A symbol or design carved into masonry to identify the stone-mason who
cut the stone.
Merlons – Raised masonry forming a crenellation.
Mote – Ditch or fosse forming an obstruction outside a defensive wall, sometimes but not
necessarily filled with water.
Motte and bailey – A castle consisting of a tower on a small man-made hill (motte), with an
outer fortified enclosure (bailey).
Portcullis – Grid like gate of iron or iron and wood, usually raised and lowered into position
inside a gateway.
Posterns – Small doors or gates in the defences of a fortified position.
Praesedium – A defended place.
Put-log – Holes in masonry into which supporting beams are thrust.
Redoubt – An outwork of a fortified place.
Salient towers – Towers thrust forward from a fortified wall.
Senechal – A senior military official in charge of inspections of the king’s castles.
Slot machicolations – An aperture or broad groove down the face of a tower or fortified wall,
through which arrows could be shot or missiles dropped.
Spur-castle – A castle built on a spur or promontory, usually on the side of a hill.
Talus – Additional sloping front along the lower part of a wall or tower.
Terrepleine – Open area on top of a rampart as an emplacement for cannon through which
the defenders can shoot.
Undercroft – Lowest chamber of a multi-storey building or structure.
Ward – Open area surrounded by a curtain-wall.