Abacus - The topmost flat portion on top of a capital.
Absidiole - A small apse or apsidal chapel.
Accoutrement and arms of the twelfth century knight and soldier
Acroterion - A gable ornament.
Advocate - The chief magistrate of a city or district
Aedicule - Decorative feature resembling a small temple with a gable.
Aisle - Space between arcade and outer wall.
Allure - Walkway along the top of a wall; also known as the wallwalk , it is the path running behind the parapet at the top of a wall or tower.
Ambulatory - The aisle around the east end of a church behind the altar.
Angle (Blind angle) - A spot not covered by fire. A work or a loophole* could be altered to recover the "sight" of this spot.
Approaches - Is said of undercover work by the besiegers to reach the fortress e.g. tunnels or trenches. Also see: Undermine.
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".
(21) Arch - Can be round-headed, pointed, two-centered, or drop; ogee: pointed with double curved sides, upper arcs lower concave; lancet: pointed formed on an acute-angle triangle; depressed: flattened or elliptical; corbelled: triangular, peaked, each stone set a little further in until they meet, with a large capstone.
Bailey - The defended ward or courtyard inside the castle walls, includes exercise area, parade ground, emergency corral. (Lower bailey: in the motte castles the space between the outer enceinte and the motte or mound was lower than the lord's quarters and so formed a lower courtyard. This term is used for the open space given over to the outbuildings in opposition to the upper bailey or the lord's courtyard.).
Bailiff - An official with administrative authority under the Sheriff. His district was called a bailiwick.
Ballista - Engine resembling a crossbow, used in hurling missiles or large arrows.
Baluster - A small column; a short shaft as is used in balustrades, usually thicker in the middle than at the ends.
Balustrade - A railing, as along a path or stairway.
Bandelet - A narrow flat moulding.
Barbican - The gateway or outworks defending the drawbridge. Known from Antiquity, it seems to have been introduced into western architecture during the Crusades. The outwork usually circular separated from the rest of the fortress by a moat and protecting the main accesses. It forms a filter between the outside and inside of the fortress and serves as a shield, also called a hornwork.
Bar hole - Horizontal hole for timber bar used as a door-bolt.
Barrel vault - Cylindrical roof.
Bartizan - An overhanging battlemented corner turret, corbelled out; sometimes as grandiose as an overhanging gallery; common in Scotland and France.
Basket arch - A three-centred arch resembling a basket handle.
Bastille - Redoubt or outwork.
Bastion - A small tower at the end of a curtain wall or in the middle of the outside wall; solid masonry or walls filled with earth projection; structural rather than inhabitable. Fortified outwork originally hernicylindrical and open-gorged adapted to the horizontal fire of cannons. It is also said of the five-sided shape of modern fortifications, notably of Vauban's star-shaped ones dating from the 17th century.
Batter - An inward sloping part of a curtain wall; also known as talus or plinth. The sharp angle at the base of all walls and towers along their exterior surface.
Battering-ram - A large beam or log suspended from perpendicular beams. By swinging it, the wall was shaken down or a whole was made through it.
Battlement - Parapet with indentations or embrasures, with raised portions (merlons) between; crenelations; a narrow wall built along the outer edge of the wall walk for protection against attack.
Bay - Internal division of building marked by roof principals or vaulting piers.
Bead, bead moulding - A narrow cylindrical moulding, often decorated with ornaments resembling beads.
Bell - The main part of a capital.
Belvedere - A raised turret or pavillion; an open structure which provides a view.
(9) Berm - Flat space between the base of the curtain wall and the inner edge of the moat; level area separating ditch from bank. Space between the foot of a rampart and the scarp of a moat to stop any crumbling earth from the ramparts filling in the moat which would have enabled the enemy to approach the enceinte more easily.
Billet moulding - A moulding of short square or cylindrical pieces placed at regular intervals.
Bird's beak - A moulding which, in section, shows a sharp slightly curved edge.
Bivalate - A hillfort defended by two concentric ditches.
Blind angle - See: Angle.
Blockhouse - Small square fortification, usually of timber bond overlapping arrangement of bricks in courses (Flemish, Dutch, French, etc.).
Bracket (culot) - A small supporting block to carry a projecting weight.
(16) Brattice (bretèche) - Timber tower or projecting wooden gallery; hoarding. Small overhanging defensive structure often placed before the entrance of a passage way. A corbelled external gallery commanding the foot of a wall.
Breastwork - Heavy parapet slung between two gate towers; defense work over the portcullis.
Bressumer - Beam to support a projection.
Broch - Drystone freestanding tower with interior court, no external windows (which face into the court), spiral stair inside wall, typically iron age Celtic refuge in Scotland.
Burg - German stronghold.
Burh - Saxon stronghold; literally a "neighborhood".
Buttery - Next to the kitchen, a room from where wine (and other beverages) was dispensed.
(26) Buttress (contrefort) - Projecting stone breastwork shouldering and strengthening a wall. Flying buttress (arc-boutant): narrow, arched bridge against the structure; pilaster - gradually recedes into the structure as it ascends.
Daub - A mud of clay mixture applied over wattle to strengthen and seal it.
Dead-ground - Close to the wall, where the defenders can't shoot; indefensible ground.
Diaper work (point de diamant) - Decoration of squares or lozenges. A repeated pattern of small lozenges.
Diaphragm - Wall running up to the roof-ridge.
Dog-legged - With right-angle bends.
Dogtooth ornament (denticules) - Diagonal indented pyramid. A pattern of tooth-like relief ornaments, pyramidal in shape.
Donjon - A great tower or keep.
Dormer - Window placed vertically in sloping roof.
Dorter, dormitory (dortoir) - Communal sleeping quarters in a monastery.
Dosseret - A vertical projection serving as the lower part of a transverse rib engaged with the wall or framing a door or window.
Double-splayed - Embrasure whose smallest aperture is in the middle of the wall.
(7) Drawbridge - A mobile, heavy timber (wooden) bridge which was drawn up or let down at will denying or allowing access over a moat to the gatehouse. At first a lever bridge balanced only by a counterweight, then in the 13th century a bridge with chains and a winch appeared, then towards the 14th century it became a drawbridge with swipe-beams and counterweights.
Dressing - Carved stonework around openings.
Drip-stone, drip-moulding (larmier) - A projecting stone or moulding to shed water.
Drum Tower - A large, circular, low, squat tower built into a wall.
Drystone - Unmortared masonry.
Dungeon - The jail, usually found in one of the towers.
Fascine - Huge bundle of brushwood for revetting ramparts or filling in ditches. Faggot of sticks used to hold in the earth of a slope. Also see: Palisade.
Fillet (filet) - Narrow flat band separating or decorating the surface of mouldings.
Finial (fleuron) - A slender piece of stone (ornament) used to decorate the tops of the merlons, spire, tower, balustrade, etc.
Fire - There were several sorts of fire according to angle and direction. Flanking fire was more or less parallel to the fortifications. Front fire was perpendicular to the line of fortifications. Oblique fire was a fire at 45 degrees. Plunging fire, from the top of a tower, a wooden gallery or the machicolations, brattice or rampart ensured the vertical defence of a work.
Flamboyant - A Late-Gothic style characterised by wavy tracery.
Flank - A work is flanked when surrounded by other works (a house flanked by two towers) or when defended by the fire of neighbouring works (a rampart flanked by two towers).
(2) Flooring - Platform which formed the wooden floor of the drawbridge.
Fluting - Concave mouldings in parallel.
Foliated - Carved with leave
Food (and receipes!) - The author Daniel Rogov is the restaurant and wine critic for the daily newspaper Ha'aretz as well as for the Israel version of the International Herald Tribune. He also contributes culinary and wine articles to newspapers in Europe and the United States.
Footings - Bottom part of wall.
Forebuilding - An extension to the keep, guarding it's entrance.
Formeret - The lateral rib of a vault parallel to its axis set against the wall; also wall-rib.
Fortified castle - Fortified seignorial dwelling; the castle is the symbolic an military centre of a castelleny i.e. the lord's jurisdiction over which he had political, judicial and administrative authority: "the right of banishment". The castelleny was the real element permitting a distinction between the fortified castle, a fortress, a fortified residence or a "Knight's tower": it was the castellany which made the castle and not the walls. The word castle derives from the Latin castellum, itself dereived from castrum: entranchment, fortified place, related to castrare: to cut, to excise, meaning a separation. The syntagma 'fortified castle' dates no further back than the XIXth century. The expression 'fine and strong castel' appeared in the Middle Ages.
Fortified residence - Seignorial dwelling which, although fortified, was not the centre of a fief or castellany. Certain fortified dwellings were nevertheless more imposing than their neighbouring fortified castles.
Gadroon (gadron) - Convex ornament on a curved surface.
Gallery - Long passage or room. See also: wooden gallery.
Garderobe - A small latrine or toilet either built into the thickness of the wall or projected out from it; projects from the wall as a small, rectangular bartizan.
Gargoyle (gargouille) - An ornamental water-spout.
Garth (préau) - The central enclosure in a cloister.
Gate (or gateway) - A critical spot in any defensive system. Reinforced by several types of structures: portcullis, assommoir, beams barring the doors and drawbridge. The fortified upper levels did not always communicate thus limiting the effects of treachery.
Gate house - The complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built to protect each entrance through a castle or town wall.
(22) Geminate - Is said of objects grouped two by two but not touching each other.
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
Great chamber - Lord's solar, or bed-sitting room.
Great Hall - The building in the inner ward that housed the main meeting and dining area for the castle's residence; throne room
Groined - Roof with sharp edges at intersection of cross-vaults.
Jamb (jambage) - Vertical side posts of arch, door, or window.
Joggled - Keyed together by overlapping joints.
Joist - Wall-to-wall timber beams to support floor boards.
Jousting (yard) - Jousting began in 11th century France as a military exercise and soon spread throughout Europe. Despite Church opposition for its savagery and occassional state banishments jousting continued through the Middle Ages until the death of King Henry II of France from jousting injuries in 1599.
Lantern or Louvre - 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.
Lists - Space between two enceintes or between an enceinte and a moat which in peace time was used for tournaments (hence the expression "to enter the lists").
(13) Light - Glazing; component part of window, divided by mullions and transoms.
Lintel - Horizontal stone or beam bridging an opening.
Loophole - Narrow, tall opening, wallslit for light, air, or shooting through. Also see: Arrow loop. Opening in a wall used for fire-arms, the simplest of this is the arrowslit, a vertical embrasure splaying inwardly. In spite of its name, it was less used for arrow-firing than for the more powerful and more precise crossbow. The cruciform arrow-slit (cross-shaped) was brought into France during the Hundred Years' War by the English who used the longbow. The cross of the arrow-slit could be used as a sight for the bowman according to the weapon he used. The arrowslit cannon-port: this type of loophole was the result of converting an arrow-slit into a cannonport. The cannon-port is a horizontal embrasure splaying outwards for hand-held fire-arms such as muskets, arquebuses or culverins.
Louvre - Opening in roof (sometimes topped with lantern) to allow smoke to escape from central hearth.
Lozenge - Diamond shape.
Lunette - 1: A half-moon-shaped opening. 2: A similarly-shaped bastion.
(10) Machicolations - Projecting gallery on brackets, on outside of castle or towers, with holes in floor for dropping rocks, shooting, etc. Stone gallery of the same shape and emplacement and having the same purpose as the wooden galleries. The machicolations could be covered either by the roof of the work they topped or by a lean-to roof.
Mangonel - A form of catapult.
Mantlet - Detached fortification preventing direct access to a gateway; low outer wall.
(5) Merlon - The high segment of the alternating high and low segments of a battlement. Portion of stonework located between two crenels.
Meurtriere - An opening in the roof of a passage where soldiers could shoot into the room below. Also see "Murder Holes".
Mine - See: Undermine.
Moat - A deep trench (in Europe usually filled with water) that surrounded a castle.
Moline - Ends curling outward.
Mortar - A mixture of sand, water, and lime used to bind stones together; as opposed to drylaid masonry.
Motte - A mound of earth on which a tower was built; artificial conical earth mound (sometimes an old barrow) for the keep.
Motte-&-bailey - Earth mound with wood or stone keep, surrounded by ditched and palisaded enclosure (or courtyard).
Murder holes - A section between the main gate and a inner portcullis where arrows, rocks, and hot oil can be dropped from the roof though holes. Provides good cover for defenders and leaves the attacker open. Only used when outer gate has been breached.
Offset - Ledge marking the narrowing of a wall's thickness.
Oilette - A round opening at the base of a loophole, usually for a cannon muzzle.
O”lite - Granular limestone.
Open joint - Wide space between faces of stones.
Oratory - Private in-house chapel; small cell attached to a larger chapel.
Order - One of a series of concentric mouldings.
Oriel - Projecting window in wall; originally a form of porch, usually of wood; side-turret.
Orillons - Arrowhead bastions.
Oubliette - A dungeon reached by a trap door; starvation hole.
Outer Curtain - The wall that encloses the outer ward.
Outer Ward - The area around the outside of and adjacent to the inner curtain.
Index - P
Palisade (or paling) - A sturdy wooden fence usually built to enclose a site until a permanent stone wall can be constructed. Fence made up of a succession of stakes, more or less closely joined, and driven into the ground. Sometimes fascines* or faggots were fixed between the stakes.
Palmette - Looped like a palm-leaf.
Parados - Low wall in inner side of main wall.
(32) Parapet - Low wall on outer side of main wall.
Pediment - Low-pitched gable over porticos, doors, windows.
Peel - A small tower; typically, a fortified house on the border.
Pellet - Circular boss.
Perpendicular - English architectural style (1330-1540).
Petit appareil - Small cubical stonework.
Petrary (Petraria) - A machine of much the same type and purpose as a mangonel (throwing stones).
Pier - Support for arch, usually square.
Pilaster - Shallow pier used to buttress a wall.
Pinnacle - Ornamental crowning spire, tower, etc.
Piscina - Hand basin with drain, usually set against or into a wall.
Pitch - Roof slope.
Pitching - Rough cobbling on floor, as in courtyards.
Plinth - Projecting base of wall; see also: batter.
(4) Portcullis - A heavy timber or metal grill (grating) that protected the castle entrance and could be raised or lowered from within the castle. It dropped vertically between grooves (worked by a winch or a counterweight) to block passage or barbican, or to trap attackers.
(15) Postern gate - A side or less important gate or (sometimes hidden) door into a castle; usually for peacetime use by pedestrians.
Prospect tower - A look-out turret built at the top of the highest tower.
Prow - Acute-angled projection.
Puddled - Made waterproof.
Putlog - Beams placed in holes (beam-box or putloghole) to support a hoarding; horizontal scaffold beam.
Putloghole - A hole intentionally left in the surface of a wall for insertion of a horizontal pole or beam.
Index - Q
Quadrangle - Inner courtyard.
Quarrel - A short, heavy, square-headed bolt or arrow.
Quirk - V-shaped nick.
Quoin - Dressed stone at angle of building.
Index - R
Ram - See: Battering-ram
Rampart - Defensive stone or earth wall surrounding castle.
Rath - Low, circular ringwork.
Ravelin - Outwork with two faces forming a salient angle; like in a star-shaped fort.
Rear-arch - Arch on the inner side of a wall.
Redoubt - Small self-contained fieldwork, a refuge for soldiers outside the main defenses.
Reeded - Parallel convex mouldings.
Re-entrant - Recessed; opposite of salient.
Refectory - Communal dining hall.
Relieving arch - Arch built up in a wall to relieve thrust on another opening.
Respond - Half-pier bonded into a wall to carry an arch.
Retirata - Improvised fieldwork to counter an imminent breach.
Revetment - Retaining wall to prevent erosion; to face a surface with stone slabs.
Rib - Raised moulding dividing a vault.
Ringwork - Circular earthwork of bank and ditch.
Roll - Moulding of semi-circular section.
Romanesque - The prevailing architectural style, 8-12th cent.; massive masonry, round arches, small windows, groin-and barrel-vault.
Roofridge - Summit line of roof.
Rubble - Fill; unsquared stone not laid in courses.
Rustication - Worked ashlar stone with the faces left rough.
Index - S
(11) Salient - Wall projection, arrowhead. Often situated on the more visible part of the castle.
Saltire - Diagonal, equal-limbed cross.
Sally-port - Small heavily fortified side door from which the defenders can rush out, strike, and retire.
Sapping - Undermining, as of a castle wall.
Scaffolding - The temporary wooden frame work built next to a wall to support both workers and materials.
Scale - Carving resembling overlapping fish scales.
Scallop - Carved in a series of semi-circles.
Scappled - Cut to a smooth face.
Scarp - Slope on inner side of ditch (side of the moat farthest from the besiegers).
Screens - Wooden partition at the kitchen end of a hall, protectting a passage leading to the buttery, pantry and kitchen.
Segmental - Less than a semi-circle.
Sergeant - A tenant on a nobleman's estate below the rank of a knight who owed military service to his lord by reason of the land he held from him. Such men, with the knights, made up the main body of the troops. The term soldier, i.e. a man who serves in the army for pay, would not be a proper equivalent.
Set back/off - Ledge on wall face.
Shaft - Narrow column.
Shell-keep - Circular or oval wall surrounding inner portion of castle; usually stores and accommodations inside the hollow walls.
Sill - Lower horizontal face of an opening.
Sleeper - Lowest horizontal timber (or low wall).
(14) Slope (or glacis) - In military architecture the slope was the steep stone incline at the base of the fortifications. It was an obstacle to approaches and ladderscaling. Missiles thrown from the top of the wooden galleries or machicolations or ramparts could rebound on it.
Soffit - Underside of arch, hung parapet, or opening.
Solar - Upper living room, often over the great hall; the lord's private living room.
Sow - A machine for undermining the wall and served as a cover for the manipulators also.
Spandrel - Area between top of a column or pier and the apex of the arch springing from it.
Splay - Chamfer, or sloping face.
Spring - Level at which the springers (voussoirs) of an arch rise from their supports.
Springald - War engine of the catapult type, employing tension.
Squint - Observation hole in wall or room.
Stepped - Recessed in a series of ledges.
Steward - The man responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the castle in the absence of the lord.
Steyned - Lined (like in a well).
Stockade - Solid fence of heavy timbers.
Stringcourse - Continuous horizontal moulding on wallface.
Stronghold - Any space surrounded by fortifications but wholely independent i.e. a town, a fortress, etc.
(3) Swipe-beam - The lifting beam of a drawbridge.
Index - T
Talus - see: batter.
Tau cross - Plain T cross with equal limbs.
Tooth-in - Stones removed (or omitted) to allow another wall to be bonded into it.
Tormentum - Hurled missiles by the use of twisted cords.
(8) (17) (18) (27) Tower - Salient on the curtain walls, square or circular and providing sufficient flanking before the advent of fire-arms. The use of towers to flank the curtain walls goes back to Antiquity. Towards the end of the 6th century, Vegetius wrote: "Our forefathers thought that the curtain walls of a stronghold should not be in an unbroken line because battering-rams would breach them too easily. By situating towers in the rampart close to each other, the walls would have salient and sunken parts. If the enemy wanted to set up ladders or bring siege-devices against a wall built like this, they could be seen from the front, from the other side and almost from the rear. It would be as if the enemy was shut in in the middle of the defence batteries which could strike him down". The shape of the towers varied according to their purpose and their period. There where horse-shoe shaped towers open at the gorge, that is to say without a wall built on the side facing the fortress enabling the tower to be under fire from the fortress even when seized, spurshaped towers offering less scope to enemy fire.
Tracery - Intersecting ribwork in upper part of window.
Transom - Horizontal division of window; crossbar.
(30) Wooden gallery - Wooden outwork overhanging a curtain wall, a tower, or the whole of an enceinte; openings in the floor allowed plunging fire. This gallery was supported on consoles or corbels or on beams fixed into putlogholes.