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Castle Terms Page 2 of 3
Term Definition
Duel A formal confrontation between two antagonists usually employing firearms
Dungeon The room for confining prisoners, usually found in one of the towers.
Embattled Battlemented; crenelated.
Embrasure See also Arrowloops. Gunloops. Opening in a defensive wall, usually splayed on the inside, for cannon or frame-mounted cross-bow. Open space in crenelated parapet.
Enceinte The fortified defensive perimeter of a castle or village
Escalade Scaling of castle walls using ladders.
Ewer(er) A pitcher for water (A staff worker with a royal or noble family responsible for providing water-usually carried in a Ewer)
Fascine Huge bundle of brushwood for revetting ramparts or filling in ditches. Used in sieges to cross ditches.
Fealty Fidelitas. An oath of fidelity sworn to lord. Of church origin and adopted by lay nobles
Fideles See Trustes
Fief Grant of land from a lord or royalty in return for military service. See also benefice and precarium
Fillet Narrow flat band between architectural mouldings. Upper member of cornice.
Finial An often decorative finishing piece topping off architectural elements such as the merlons in a battlement
Flanking Defensively: concentrating defenses to right and left, usually along the castle wall from bartizans and towers extending forward of wall face
Fluting Concave mouldings in parallel.
Foederati Federates. Germanic peoples engaged by the Romans to perform military service as a group or unit. Usually under command of their own leader who was made a Roman officer.
Foliated Carved with leaves.
Footings Bottom part of wall.
Forebuilding A smaller extension of the keep often containing defensive elements and the stairs-frequently open to protecting fire from the keep- to the main entrance
Fosse Ditch.
Francisca (Franciska) Battle axe of the Frankish tribes. Thought either to have lent its name to the tribe or the weapon acquired its name from the tribe.
Freestone High quality sand- or lime-stone.
Fresco Painting on wet plaster wall.
Gable traingular wall section framed by the sloping end of roof ridge.
Gallery Long passage or room.
Ganerbenburg A castle in Germany whose ownership and residency are shared by more than one of the extended family branches
Garderobe A latrine often projected from an exterior wall for discharged freefalling waste to the moat below. Interior garderobes utilized chutes within walls to reach a cesspit.
Gatehouse The primary defensive structure protecting the main entrance to the outer bailey and often serving as residence for the castellan
Glacis A bank sloping down from a castle which acts as a defence against invaders; broad, sloping naked rock or earth on which the attackers are completely exposed. (See Batter?)
Graf (en) count
Great chamber Lord's solar, or bed-sitting room.
Great Hall The room or building in which the lord and his family, in earlier centuries, resided and conducted business. Later its function was business and ceremony
Greek Fire A napalm type of mixture whose recipe has been lost to history
Groined Roof with sharp edges at intersection of cross-vaults, intersection of two barrel vaults.
Half-Timber A common European construction composed of heavy timber post-and-beam supports with the spaces between timbers filled with masonry or watt & daub. Face of beams left exposed.
Hall Principal room or building in complex.
Helm helmet
Herald An official at a joust announcing contestants and expert at heraldry
Heraldry The emblems and designs unique to each bearer or noble or royal family adorning flags, shields and armor, and above the entrance to the manor or castle
Herringbone Brick or stone laid in alternate diagonal courses.
Hill-fort Bronze or iron age earthwork defenses of concentric ditches and banks.
Hoarding Brattice. Wood balcony extended out from tops of walls and towers with openings in the floor enabling use of stones or hot liquids against enemy at base of wall
Hoarding Holes Holes in the castle walls to support the hoarding.
Hof / Höfe courtyard, bailey, ward, courts
Hornwork - Freestanding quadrilateral fortification in front of the main wall.
Impost Wall bracket to support arch.
Inner Curtain The high wall that surrounds the inner ward or the inner wall of a concentric plan
Inner Ward Inner Bailey. The open area in the center of a castle separated from the primary and outer wards by additional walls.
Jamb Side posts of arch, door, or window.
Joggled Keyed together by overlapping joints.
Joist Wall-to-wall timber beams to support floor boards.
Jousting Knight's war game played on horse¬back. Armored opponents charged at each other, each using his lance to knock the other from the saddle.
Keep Donjon. Fortified tower and last stand against enemy, containing noble's living quarters and the structure which all other defensive measures protected
Kern core
Keystone Central wedge in top of arch.
Komtur Commander of an Order
Lance Long pole with pointed metal tip used as a weapon in war and later to display the heraldry of its noble.
Lancet Long, narrow window with pointed head.
Landkomtur Regional Commander of the order
Lantern Small structure with open or windowed sides on top of a roof or dome to let light or air into the enclosed space below.
Lattice Laths or lines crossing to form a network.
Lias Greyish rock which splits easily into slabs.
Lights Glazing; component part of window, divided by mullions and transoms.
Lintel Horizontal stone or beam bridging an opening.
Lists Area for jousting, normally outside the castle walls or in space between concentric walls
Loopholes Arrowloops, Gunloops. Narrow slits in walls and towers from which arrows were launched at an enemy outside. Later modified to facilitate guns
Louvre Opening in roof (sometimes topped with lantern) to allow smoke to escape from central hearth.
Lozenge Diamond shape.
Machicolation Brattices. A masonry outward extention at the tops of castle walls and towers containing openings in the floors for dropping stones and hot liquids on attackers - improvement over wood hoardings
Mangonel Mangonneau, Catapult,Petrariæ, Siege engine using released tension of twisted horse or human hair to launch a variety of missiles and debris from a container (cup)
Mantlet Pavice. Installed in ground or carried protective cover/shield for men attempting to scale or breach castle wall. May have developed from assault on Pavia, Italy, where the name pavice originated.
Marchfield Frankish custom of gathering its armies in March for campaigns
Mark March. An outying expansion region either under development or serving as a buffer state. (border region)
Markgraf Margrave, Marquis. count or governor of a mark or march (border province)
Merchet A fine or penalty levied against a serf whose obligation to the lord was hereditary, but whose daughter sought permission to marry outside the bounds of the parent's obligation.
Merlon The solid segments of the serrated, notched top edge of a battlemented castle wall or tower.
Meutrieres French. An opening in the roof of a passage where soldiers could shoot into the room below. Also see "Murder Holes".
Miner Sapper. Member of a team of men digging beneath a fortification wall to weaken its walls and cause its collapse
Ministeriales Unfree administrators of the monarchy (at first, then of other nobles) whose status made them more reliable than self-serving nobles. They soon became warriors and nobles.
Moat Ditch. A defensive trench in front of and usually running the length of a fortification wall and often filled with water which is, when possible, diverted from a stream
Mortar A mixture of sand, water, and lime used to bind stones together; as opposed to drylaid masonry.
Motte A hill or hillock, natural or manmade to create a high point within a castle enclosure to provide for a central keep for observation and fall-back defense
Motte-&-bailey Earth mound with wood or stone keep, surrounded by ditched and palisaded enclosure (or courtyard).
Moulding Architectural decoration; dimensional accents and additions to break or soften joints where two flat surfaces come together as in right angles.
Mullion Vertical division of windows dividing them into smaller lights (panes).
Mural Having to do with, in, of on or for a wall.
Mural stair Staircase built into the thickness of a wall.
Murder Holes Meutrieres, see also Boss. Openings in the ceiling of a castle gate complex to enable pouring of hot fluids and dropping stones, or firing of weapons on an enemy that has breached the gate.
Nave Principal hall of a church, extending from the narthex to the chancel.
Newel Center post of spiral staircase.
O”lite Granular limestone.
Oilette A round opening in the lower portion of an arrow loop added in later centuries to facilitate maneuverability of bows and crossbows, and then guns
Open joint Wide space between faces of stones.
Oratory Private in-house chapel; small cell attached to a larger chapel.
Order The combination of elements making up a full column supporting an entablature: base, column, shaft and capital
Oriel Projecting window in wall; originally a form of porch, usually of wood; side-turret. Usually supported on corbels
Orillons Arrowhead bastions.
Oubliette An unlighted well-style basement ocassionally employed as a prison or dungeon orvbuilt into walls where captives disappeared - rare existance.
Outer Curtain Enciente. The outermost defensive wall of a fortification.
Outer Ward The bailey or courtyard enclosed by an outer curtain wall and an inner wall protecting other portions of the castle
Outwork Various defensive measures constructed outside of castle walls such as ditches and other obstructions
Page A young boy, after starting at about 6 or 7 years of age and usually of noble birth, completes early training at about 12 and advances to knight's assistant prior to knighthood