Castle Terminology
A Simple Glossary
(compiled from a variety of sources)

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Allure:The walkway along the top of a wall
Arcade:A roofed or covered arched passageway often with columns or piers
Arch:A typically curved structural member spanning an opening and serves as a wall suport above doors and windows.
Armoury:Weapons storage
Arrow loop:A vertical narrow slit in a castle wall for archers to fire from
Ashlar:Hewn squared and shaped blocks of building stones.
Bailey:An outer courtyard or ward inside the castle walls
Baluster:A small column of wood or stone used to support a load.
BallistaA siege machine resembling a gaint crossbow and propels large arrows or bolts
Balustrade:A railing atop a row of balusters along a walkway or an external stairway.
Bar Hole:A hole in a wall which receives the door bolt.
Barbican:An outer defense structure of a castle, often a heavily fortified gate-tower or gate-house.
Bastion:A small enclosed tower placed at the edge of a curtain wall and used primarily as watch or guard post.
Batter:An angled portion at the base of a curtain wall used to bounce rocks off of into attacking forces.
Battering Ram:A heavy pole used for knocking down gates and walls, often made of large tree trunks and capped with metal. Frequently built into a covered structure to protect it's operators.
Battlements:Parapets with crenelations (open part) and merlons (raised part) forming a narrow defensive wall along the upper outer edge of the curtain walls.
Battice:A timber tower or a projecting wooden hoarding or gallery.
Berm:A narrow shelf, pathway, or ledge typically at the top or bottom of a slope, or a raised bank or path such as one along a canal or between the moat and curtain wall.
Blockhouse:A timber or stone structure with arrow loops used for defense.
Bolt:A Shaft or missile designed to be shot from a crossbow, catapult, or ballista.
Bolt:A wooden or metal bar used to secure a door or gate.
Boss:An ornamental projecting block of stone or wood, or the keystone of a stone arch.
Breastwork:A low wall or railing used to protect the edge of a platform, roof, or bridge. Also, sometimes a temporary forification used in the defense of the castle during battle.
Bessumer:Wooden beams used to support a projection from a wall.
Bulwark:A wall or embankment raised as a defensive fortification; a rampart. Anything that provides a barrier or defense. A Barricade.
Butt joint:A joint made by fastening parts together end-to-end without overlap. Usually reinforced by wrapping or bolting.
Buttery:A storeroom for wine and other beverages.
Buttress:A projection of masonry or wood used to reinforce a wall. Flying buttresses are narrow arched bridges built against the wall. Pilaster buttresses gradually recede into the wall as it ascends.
Castle:From the latin "castellum"- A fortress, a stronghold, a fortified place. A large fortified residence or a fortified set of buildings.
Capital:The uppermost member of a column or pilaster crowning the shaft and taking the weight the entablature.
Cesspit:An area where the contents of the garderobes were collected.
Chamber:An arched roof. A bedroom or a hall for meetings or receiving visitors
Chapel:A place of worship within the castle walls, smaller than and subordinate to a church.
Chamfer:To shape the edges of two stones such that they will fit closely together.
Chevron:A pattern having the shape of a V or an inverted V. A heraldry charge consisting of two diagonal stripes meeting at an angle usually with the point up.
CisternA storage place for water.
Citadel:A fortress or heavily fortified military castle; a bulwark
Cloister:A covered passageway on the inside of a courtyard. One side is the courtyard wall and the other side is an open arcade.
Cobblestone:A naturally rounded paving stone; A large pebble; a rounded stone not too large to be handled; a small boulder; -- used for paving streets and for other purposes
Coffer:Recessed ornamental panels placed in the ceiling or vault.
Coigns:See 'Quoins'
Column:A cylindrical supporting pillar, usually made of stone or wood, that supports a heavy structure.
Concentric:Two set of high defensive walls, with one totally inside of the other. And with both enclosed areas having a common center.
Coping:The covering course of a wall usually with a sloping outward top.
Cope Stone:A stone shaped for and used for covering the top course of a wall. Note: Sometimes Slate stone or fired clay tiles were used. In other cases wooden shakes were used especially where crenelations and merlons needed covering.
Corbel:An architectural member that projects from within a wall and supports a timber beam or a joist for a floor or a roof joist or rafter.
Corbeling:Corbel work or the construction of a corbel
Counter-weight:An equivalent weight or force. Important for lifting heavy objects, such as a drawbridge or a portcullis.
Cord:A long slender flexible material consisting of several twisted strands woven or twisted together. Nearly as important as string in building a castle. A measure of volume of wood; 4ft wide, 4ft high, and 8ft long. Or 128 cubic feet.
CrenellesThe flat part of the space between merlons on an battlement fortifications. Also known as embrasures.
Crenelation:The open areas between merlons on an battlement fortifications
Cupola:A rounded vault resting on a usually circular base and forming a roof or ceiling. A small structure built on a roof.
Curtain wall:A castle wall enclosing the entire castle or a courtyard.
Daub:A mixture of clay, straw and hair, used to cover house walls made of wattle.
Donjon:See 'keep'
Drawbridge:A wooden bridge, capable of being raised or lowered, used to open a passageway or gate.
Dungeon:The jail, often a ground level in one of the towers.
Escalade:To scale or climb over the castle walls and fortifications.
Finial:A usually foliated ornamentation forming a crowning decorative detail.
ForebuildingA structure that projects from a keep to house the entrance stairway.
Foundation:The base of a structure that provides stablity for and supports the entire weight of a castle structure.
GalleryAn outdoor roofed balcony used for patrolling the castle walls. A corridor or room devoted to the exhibition of castle portraits and treasured trophies.
Garderobe:The Latrine
Garrison:A permanent base or lodging for troops.
Gate: Large heavy wooden doors to control the entry into a castle.
Gate House:The complex of gates, portcullis, drawbridges, and barriers built to control the entrances to a castle.
Hall:The pricipal living quarters and meeting room of a castle.
Hoarding:A covered gallery built on or near the top and outside of a curtain wall or tower to defend against attackers.
Inner WardThe inner Bailey or courtyard of a castle.
Keep:The stronghold of a castle. Typically where the owner lived. Some castles are keeps only, without a curtain wall.
Loophole:See 'arrow loop'
Machicolation:A projection from a curtain wall or tower with opening in the floor throughwhich rocks, boiling water or arrows could be rained down upon attackers.
Mangonel:A large siege machine used to hurl large rocks at the castle or at attackers of the castle.
Merlon:That part of the wall or tower battlement that extends above the level of the crenelations. Provides protection to the castle defenders.
Moat:A deep and wide trench around the rampart of the castle. Usually filled with water.
Mortise:A socket in a timber into which a wooden tenon is joined in a tight secure fit.
Motte:A man-made earthen mound upon which a castle was built.
Mural Towers:A tower built on the top of the curtain wall.
Murder Holes:Holes designed into the ceiling and walls of the gatehouse passageway between the inner and outer gates where arrows, rocks, and boiling water could be dropped or shot atany intruders who made it that far.
Oilette: The round opening at the base of a loophole. Allows the archer a wider angle view to help locate targets.
Oubliette:A dungeon/cell whose only entrance/exit is in the cieling. Often used for -permanently- disposing of people, hence the name which comes from french for "forget".
Padstone:A stone upon which a timber post is placed.
Palisade:A strong wooden fence or wall built on a Motte or an earthen rampart.
Pantry:A storeroom for bread, grain, and other dry food.
Parapet:A protective wall built along the outer top of a wall or tower.
Pilaster:An auxilary mass of masonry designed to strenghten a wall.
Pillar:A vertical structural member that supports the end of an arch or lintel.
Portcullis:A vertical sliding grating of iron positioned over a gateway in the gatehouse and lowered between groves to prevent passage.
Postern Gate: An small additional gate or door.
Quoins:The hewn or dressed stones at the corner of a building.
Ramparts:A stone wall or a broad earth embankment raised as an addition fortification outside the castle walls.
Revetment:To face a slope of earthwork with a layer of stone to stabilized and strengthen the slope.
Sallyport:A small usually concealed gate or door.
Shake:A hand split section of wood used to cover the topside surface a roof.
Shingle:A tile made from wood and used for roofing material.
ShuttersA wooden covering for the outside of windows for protection.
Sillbeam:The horizonal timber at the base of a timber framed building upon which upright posts can be joined to.
Solar:A term commonly used for a small chamber or private sitting room usually off of the great hall. Originally referred to a private chamber located high up in the keep, with a window that allowed direct sun to enterto warm the room.
Soleplate:A horizonal timber plate between a Sillbeam and the masonry foundation in a timber framed building.
Tenon:A wooden structural piece shaped to tightly and securely fit into a Mortise socket.
Talus:A huge sloping inner concentric wall which prevented attackers from getting so close that they could not be seen by the castle defenders. Used successfully inthe castle: Krak des Chevaliers (Castle of the Knights) a Crusaders castle now in Syria.
Timber:A large squared or dressed piece of wood used for building. Timbers were used for the structural framework of timber framed portions of the castle.
Timber Framing:A method of constructing wooden buildings and roof structures using large wooden timbers with notches and wooden pegs to securely hold the framework together.
Tower:A structure that is usually several times or more taller than its diameter. Usually e highest part structural part of a castle.
Trebuchet:A siege machine employing a counter weight to throw very heavy objects greatdistance and with great force.
Treadmill:Large treadmills were used to provide the force needed to drive the winches that lifted the heavy loads of building materials up to the masons and other skilled workers during castle construction.
Turret:A small tower built on a larger tower or a wall.
Vault:An arched structure of masonry usually forming a ceiling or roof.
Ward:The inner court of a castle.
Wattle:A woven structure of wooden twigs placed between timber framed structure to close the walls. The wattling was covered with Daub.
Winch:A machine used for lifting heavy weights.