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Castle Terms

Allure or alure:
passage; wall walk; the walkway along the battlement of a curtain wall; allure also means the quality of something toward which one is attracted; the term is derived from the French word lure: an enticement or bait; to invite; perhaps the original connection is to invite someone along a passage, or maybe the two words have very different origins and have simply converged through time

Apertures: openings in walls, such as slits, loops, and windows; see arrow slits; gun loops; windows. Arrow Slits, Arrow Loops: slits in walls for shooting arrows out of a castle or tower; the slits were very narrow on the outside but wider inside (splayed) to provide archers with a field of fire out of the slit while providing protection from arrows fired from outside

Arrow Slits: narrow slits in the wall of a castle for shooting arrows at attackers

Ashlar: stone with cut flat surfaces for building castle walls, towers, churches and other buildings

Aumbry: a recess in the thickness of a wall, used for storage cupboards or wardrobes

Bailey: the area enclosed by a castle wall; see also Courtyard and Ward; the term originally referred to a palisaded enclosure

Balcony: a walled or fenced platform outside a window or door; more common in palaces than in castles

Barbican: an exterior defense or small castle defending a gate or approach to a castleBailey

holes behind a door for timber or iron rods to bolt a door closed

Barmkin: another term for barbican in north England; often a simple walled area without towers protecting a gate

Barrel vault: an elongated roof of a chamber, in the shape of a barrel, of uniform diameter; usually semicircular in section
Bartizan: a small turret or corbelled look-out along a wall or at a tower angle

Bascule: the counterweight of a drawbridge

Base Court: the bailey or courtyard at the base of a motte or keep


Basement: the lowest level of a keep, usually at ground level but below the entrance, which was approached by wooden stairs; used as a storage area; sometimes also containing the well; see also Dungeon, which usually refers to a prison, because prisoners were often held in the keep of a castle, often in the basement, which was normally just a storage room with access only through a trap door in the floor above; if a person was dropped into the basement, without a rope or ladder, it was nearly impossible to climb out (see also Oubliette)

Bastion: an outwork, such as a tower, beyond the main walls of a castle, designed to cover dead ground and provide cross-fire

Batter: (see also Plinth, Talus); the slanted footing of a wall or tower; designed to cause dropped missiles, such as stones, to ricochet horizontally so that the rock hits an attacker in
the nose rather than on top of the head; it also provides a wider base for the wall and helps
prevent battering and tunneling


Battlement: (see also Crenel, Merlon, Parapet); the upper, crenellated part of a castle wall or tower

Berm: the level area between the base of the wall and the edge of the ditch surrounding a castle

Blacksmith shop: all castles had one or more blacksmith shops either in the lower bailey or nearby for shoeing the large number of horses and for making and repairing armor and weapons

Bower: the room attached to a hall for private domestic life and sleeping; the lord’s family and close associates may sleep in the bower, everyone else got to sleep in the hall

Braie: a low-level defense, often only a short palisade or picket protecting castle approaches or the foot of ramparts

Brattice: Bretasch: a perimeter defensive palisade or stockade

Bressumer: a beam to support a projection from a castle wall such as a hoarding

Bridge: a stone or wooden structure built over a ditch, moat, or river; major bridges over large rivers in a given region were often protected by a castle; most castles were protected by several ditches or moats with one or more bridges over each at entry points into the castle; these bridges were often protected by barbicans or towers; a section of the bridge could usually be rotated or drawn up for defense

Broch: stone tower, as much as 50 feet high, surrounded by a walled court; Brochs were built by ancestors of the Picts, in the far north of Scotland, starting approximately 100 BC, perhaps as a defense against the builders of the hill forts; built with a double thickness of wall; stairways and wooden galleries were built in the space between the two walls; Brochs were built of dry stone construction, without the use of mortar.; a good example is the Broch at Clickhimin

Buttery: a service room usually between the kitchen and hall; storage area for cups and bottles; also called the bottlery; presided over by butler or bottler, in charge of butts (casks, barrels, or bottles)

Buttress: a thickening of a wall for support, usually tapering toward the top

Butts: a shooting or archery range; a butt was a post onto which a target was painted or attached

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