Header fo the castle list page of Roads to Ruins


Castle Terms
Term Definition
Abacus Flat portion on top of a capital.
Abbruch demolition
Abtei abbey
Adel nobility
Aisle Space between arcade and outer wall.
Allod (Allodial) Land owned privately - not as a grant of fief
Allure Wall-walk. Narrow passage way. A walkway along the internal tops, behind battlements, of castle and town walls for observation and defense
Ambulatory Aisle round an apse.
anlage building complex, layout
Antrustiones See Trustes: In Frankish organization, close band of a monarch's trusted warriors, administrators bound by oath of loyalty
Apse Rounded and usually of a chancel or chapel.
Arcade Row of arches, free-standing and supported on piers or columns; a blind arcade is a "dummy".
Arrestantentürme detainee (prison) tower
Arrow Loop A narrow vertical slit cut into a wall through which arrows could be fired from inside. (arrow slits, loopholes)
Ashlar Stones cut and squared and smoothed for building and facing.
Atilliator Skilled castle worker who made crossbows
Aumbry Recess to hold sacred vessels; typically in a chapel.
Avars Nomadic tribes, probably composed of fleeing Mongols and Huns forced into the European picture when pushed west by Turks, about 552-559
Bailey The ward or courtyard inside the castle walls, includes exercise area, parade ground, emergency corral
Ballistae (Balista, ballista) Large crossbow type Roman weapon using released tension from double skeins to launch bolts (arrows) too large for handheld crossbows
Baluster A small column.
Balustrade A railing, as along a path or stairway.
Bar hole Horizontal hole for timber bar used as a door-bolt.
Barbican Defensive structure usually containing its own gates and towers ahead of and linked by walls to a main castle gate, or protecting a drawbridge.
Barmkin (Barmkyn) Enclosure wall around a pele tower (heavily fortified tower) (Scottish)
Barrel vault Half-cylindrical roof. The semi-circular roof usually supported across the room from column to second column by an arch.
Bartizan Small (usually one man) lookout turret extending from corners and face of walls to provide better views of outward facing wall surfaces
Bastion Projection of wall, extending beyond the wall face or corners sharply angled or circular to provide extra protection or surveillance at the level of the wall walk.
Batter (Battered Plinth, talus) The sharply inclined lower face or splayed plinth (base) of a wall that gains thickness toward its base.
Battlement A narrow notched (crenelated) vertical extension along the outer edge of a castle wall protecting the defenders along the wall walk (allure).
Bawn A walled enclosure. Irish. Often a walled-in space with a tower in it or partially included in the surrounding wall. As a bailey.
Bay Internal cavities of a wall often for windows and often with seating.
Belfry Siege tower. A mobile tower used to elevate attackersto the hight of the wall being attacked. Later a bell tower
Belvedere A raised turret or pavillion. Roofed but open-sided for observation.
Benefice see precarium
Berm Flat space between the base of the curtain wall and the inner edge of the moat; level area separating ditch from wall or palisade.
Bivalate A hillfort defended by two concentric ditches.
Blockhouse Small square fortification, usually of timber bond overlapping arrangement of bricks in courses (flemish, dutch, french, etc.)
Bolt A heavier arrow designed for crossbow use
Bombard An early form of mortar type of artillary
Bonnet Freestanding fortification; priest's cap.
Boon Work/Day * Compulsory work day when manor workers and their family members helped in the lord's fields. Usually during harvest seasons only.
Boss An ornament at the junction of ceiling vaulting. These projecting center pieces actually bore holes through their center for pouring hot fluids or stones against an enemy. Also used on shields.
Brattice Hoarding. Wood decking that extended externally from the tops of walls during battles to enable defenders to move out over the base of the wall to drop boulders or hot oil
Breastwork Heavy parapet slung between two gate towers; defense work over the portcullis.
Bressumer Beam to support a projection.
Broch Early form of fort from about 3nd century, Celtic tower, circular in plan. typically iron age Celtic refuge in Scotland.
Buttery Section of kitchen where liquor/wine was stored and dispensed. Initially out and away from living quarters but later moved indoors with advances in building.
Buttress Stone, masonry vertical supports, usually at the height of, and spaced along and against an outer wall for additional strength.
Butts Practice range/backstop for arrows or other missile fired at a target
Capital Distinctly treated or embellished upper end of a column.
Casemates Vaulted chamber at outer surface of walls of castles to direct missiles and weapons at besiegers attempting to breach wall.
Castellan (Constable) A commander or governor of a castle
Cat Ram or bore usually w/mobile protective roof, covered with wetted hides, for sappers as they work to undermine or breach castle walls
Catapult Mangonel, Petrariæ. Siege engine using released tension of twisted horse or human hair to launch a variety of missiles and debris from a container (cup)
Cesspit LatrinePit. The cavity or opening in a wall for human waste from toilets (garderobes) was collected.
Chamfer Surface made by smoothing off the sharp angle between two stone faces.
Chancel The space surrounding a screen for the choir or clergy to separate them from the main area of a church. The altar of a church.
Chemise A wall within the castle grounds surrounding a keep
Chemise wall Formed by a series of interlinked or overlapping semicircular bastions.
Chivalry Rules dictating behavior and honor of knights
Cistern A cavity or tank built into castle structures to collect water for domestic uses.
Clasping Encasing the angle
Cob Unburned clay mixed with straw.
Column Pillar (circular section).
Comitatus Gefolgschaft. German warrior band tied to war leader by oath of loyalty. The comitatus could be made up of members of several tribes, but loyalty was to their war leader. Precursor tofeudalism
Commendation Commendatio, Fideles. Commending oneself/swearing loyalty to a higher lord or chieftan in an oath providing military service. Merovingian Period
Concentric Walls Series of two or more curtain walls surrounding a castle, the outer ones lower than the inner to allow two or more lines of defense
Constable English. (Castellan) senior official in charge of a castle in the owner's absence. Also could be commander of troops.
Coping Covering stones. Capping or covering for a wall.
Corbel Masonry blocks projecting from the upper levels of a wall face to support additional defensive works, such as hoardings
Cornice Decorative projection along the top of a wall. Upper portion of entablature.
Counterguard A long, near-triangular freestanding fortification within the moat.
Counterscarp Outer slope of ditch.
Course Level layer of stones or bricks.
Crannog Celtic Scotland timber-built residence or refuge on a natural or manmade island
Creasing þ-shaped mark on a wall, marking the pitch of a former roof.
Crenel Embrasure. Open space between two vertical extensions (merlons) on a parapet atop castle walls
Crenelation Alternating vertical solid and open segments of a battlemented parapet at the top of a tower or wall.
Crocket Curling leaf-shape carved into a block of stone. Gothic Architecture
Cross-and-orb Modified cross slits in castle walls to accommodate gunnery.
Crosswall Interior dividing wall; structural.
Crownwork Freestanding bastioned fortification in front of main defenses.
Cupola Hemispherical armored roof.
Curtain Wall A connecting wall extending between two towers surrounding the bailey. Basic wall enclosing a castle, often connecting two towers or bastions.
Cushion Capital cut from a block by rounding off the lower corners.
Cusp Curves meeting in a point. The projecting point of at the meeting of two arcs.
Cyclopean Drystone masonry, ancient, of huge blocks.
Daub A earthen mixture used to bond and strengthen wattle between timbers in a half-timber structure
Dead-ground Close to the wall, where the defenders can't shoot. (An area protected from view of an enemy?)
Degan Sword, light. Or warrior
Diaper work Decoration of squares or lozenges repeated continuously on walls.
Ditch A wide trench as part of the defensive layers of a castle to bog down an enemy in a killing field; dry or water-filled, usually from a diverted stream
Dog-legged With right-angle bends.
Dogtooth Diagonal tooth-like architectural decoration. English
Donjon Central keep or tower; NOT to be confused with dungeon
Dormer Window placed vertically in sloping roof.
Double-splayed Embrasure whose smallest aperture is in the middle of the wall. As in Etampes?
Drawbridge A heavy timber platform built to span a moat between a gatehouse and surrounding land that could be raised to prevent unauthorized access into a castle.
Dressing Carved stonework around openings.
Drum-tower Circular curtain wall tower, wide in circumference but usually low and squat--usually no higher than connecting wall.
Drystone Unmortared masonry.