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Castle Terms

Caen Stone: a high quality stone imported from Caen, Normandy; used mainly as strong building material around doors, windows and outer corners of towers; in many castles, the stones around the doors, windows, and corners are tan and lighter in color than other castle stones

Cannon Fort
Cannon Fort
Castillo De San Marcos
St. Augustine, Florida

Cannon Fort: a fort built of thick sloping walls to support cannons on the allure and to resist cannon fire from outside

Caphouse: a gabled turret, often at the top of a staircase, such as in a vice (tower)

Castellan: owner or manager of a castle

Castle: a fortified structure capable of defense by a small garrison against a much larger attacking force; castles ranged from a single tower to large, complex structures with many walls and numerous, ditches, moats, bridges and gates

Cavalier Tower: a square wall tower that provided additional living space, by the late 13th century, when domestic buildings began to be built along the inner surface of the curtain wall,
such towers were seen as a waste of space and were cut off flush with the inner wall surface

Chamber, Great: (see also Solar); a room entered from the upper end of the great hall, sometimes located above the hall

Chamber Keep: a keep without a great hall; the great hall was built separate from the keep after the late 12th century
Chapel: there were usually one or more chapels in the keep and/or bailey

Chase: a slot or groove above doorways or gates through which the portcullis descended

Chemise: a wall set close to the base of a keep or great tower; more common in 16th century artillery forts

Chimneys: when fireplaces were built against a wall, chimneys were added – usually after the late 13th century; many older castles had fireplaces and chimneys added to some rooms

Cistern: a basin, usually located in a roof, for collecting rain water for use in the castle; this may augment or even replace a well

Concentric Castle
The Tower of London is a Concentric Castle.
Note that the keep (White Tower) is surrounded
by at least two sets of walls.

Concentric Castle: a castle with rings of defensive walls, one inside the other

Corbel: a stone bracket projecting from a wall to hold a gallery, floor, roof, or wall extension such as a machicolation

Counterscarp: a leveled area on the outermost bank of a ditch

Courtyard: (see also Bailey and Ward); the area enclosed by a castle wall

Creasing: the inverted V on a wall marking the pitch of a former gable, now long since gone

Crenel: the lower part of a battlement; the embrasure between two merlons

Crenellate: to fortify; to build a castle

Cross-wall: an interior wall dividing a keep; this allowed timber to reach across the spaces in large keeps

Crow’s nest: a high look-out tower, there is a rare example at Warwick Castle

Crypt: the basement of a church; usually for the preservation of relics – often the bones or other body parts of old, long-dead saints

Curtain Wall: a stretch of wall between two towers; usually these were the main high walls of a castle (see also Mantlet Wall)

Dais: an elevated platform usually located at one end of a hall, usually at the end opposite of the main door; the head table for the lord, lady, and special guests was placed on the dais; it was also used for the thrown when the hall was used for court

Ditch: many castle walls, towers and keeps were protected by a ditch dug either right at the base or nearby; in a rocky area, the rocks from the ditch were often used to build the castle walls; most ditches did not contain water – or alligators; if a ditch was filled with water, it was called a moat – but there were still no alligators or crocodiles (however see Menagerie and Zoo)

Donjon: (see also Keep); the strongest towered structure in the castle and point of last defense (see also Dungeon)

Doorway: a passage between two rooms or other parts of a castle; doors may be open passages or be closed by simple or elaborate structures, such as a curtain, yett or wooden door

Drawbridge: a bridge with one or more sections that can be pivoted or raised for defense; some drawbridges hinged in the center (Turning Bridge) rather than at one end so that when the outside end was raised the inside end rotated into a pit – a big surprise to an attacker on the bridge!; the pit also served another purpose: many drawbridges had counterweights, or bascules and the pit accommodated the bascule when the bridge was raised; drawbridges were raised by ropes or chains, often attached to lifting beams called gaffs, which fit into slots in the castle wall called rainures, and the ropes or chains were attached to a windlass (cranking) devise located in a room above the gate

Drum Tower: a round tower

The Earthworks of Maiden Castle,
a prehistoric Hill Fort

Dungeon: (see Donjon; see also Keep); this term, derived from Donjon, 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; in later castles, dungeons did have cells and torture rooms

Earthworks: early castles consisted of ditches with rings of earth and stone thrown up on one or both sides; mottes were large earthwork mounds, as much as 80 feet high, with a ditch around its base; earthworks were usually protected by a wooden palisade along the top, which was often later replaced by a stone wall

Embrasure: (see also Crenel); an opening in a wall, a term also used as equivalent to crenel

Enceinte: the entire castle enclosed by its outermost walls

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