fortifications were developed in connection with the weapons that opposed them.
Some of the common fortification terms include:
- a defensive low wall between chest-height and head-height), in which
rectangular gaps or indentations occur at intervals to allow for the discharge
of arrows or other missiles from within the defenses. These gaps are termed
"crenels" (also known as carnels, embrasures, or wheelers), and the building
operation of embattling a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation.
are a fortified outpost or gateway, such as an outer defense to a city or
castle, or any tower situated over a gate or bridge which was used for
defensive purposes. Usually barbicans were situated outside the main line of
defenses and connected to the city walls with a walled road.
Castle is a type
of fortified structure common in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle
Ages. Over approximately 900 years that castles were built they took on a
great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain
walls and arrow slits, were commonplace.
a fortress protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term
derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen.
In a fortification with bastions, the citadel is the strongest part of the
system, sometimes well inside the outer walls and bastions, but often forming
part of the outer wall for the sake of economy. It is positioned to be the
last line of defense should the enemy breach the other components of the
fortification system. A citadel is also a term of the third part of a medieval
castle, with higher walls than the rest. It was to be the last line of defense
before the keep itself.
may only be crossed by entering the appropriate city gate and are often
supplemented with towers. In the Middle Ages, the right of a settlement to
build a defensive wall was a privilege, and was usually granted by the
so-called "right of crenellation" on a medieval fortification. The practice of
building these massive walls, though having its origins in prehistory, was
refined during the rise of city-states, and energetic wall-building continued
into the medieval period and beyond in certain parts of Europe.
is the defensive wall surrounding the bailey of a medieval castle and may also
be a defensive wall between two bastions of a castle or fortress in
post-medieval fortifications. In earlier designs of castles the curtain walls
were often built to a considerable height and were fronted by a ditch or moat
to make assault difficult.
Drawbridge is a
type of movable bridge typically associated with the entrance of a castle
surrounded by a moat. The term is often used to describe all different types
of movable bridges, like bascule bridges and lift bridges.
gateway is a point of entry to a space enclosed by walls. Gates prevent or
control the entry or exit of individuals. Other terms for gate include "yett"
and port. The word derives from the old Norse "gata", meaning road or path,
and originally referred to the gap in the wall or fence, rather than the
barrier which closed it.
Moat is a
deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that surrounds a castle,
other building or town.
is a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork
called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by
a protective ditch and palisade. Relatively easy to build with unskilled,
often forced labour, but still militarily formidable.
or "meurtrière" is a hole in the ceiling of a gateway or passageway in a
fortification through which the defenders could fire, throw or pour harmful
substances, such as rocks, arrows, scalding water, hot sand, quicklime, tar,
or boiling oil, down on attackers. They also allowed water to be poured onto
fires started within the gate passage. Similar holes, called machicolations,
were often located in the curtain walls of castles, fortified manor houses and
city walls. The parapet would project over corbels so that holes would be
located over the exterior face of the wall, allowing the defenders to target
attackers at the base of the wall.
is a fortified the entrances to many medieval castles, acting as a last line
of defense during time of attack or siege. Each portcullis was mounted in
vertical grooves in castle walls and could be raised or lowered quickly by
means of chains or ropes attached to an internal winch. There would often be
two portcullises to the main entrance. The one closer to the inside would be
closed first and then the one farther away. This was used to trap the enemy
and often, burning wood or fire-heated sand would be dropped onto them from
the roof or murder-holes. There were often arrow slits in the sides of the
walls, enabling archers and crossbowmen to eliminate a trapped group of
Monday October 29, 2012
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