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Castle Terms

Sally Port:
a hidden, often postern door through which some of the garrison may rush out, or sortie, to attack an enemy threatening the castle

Sally Port

Scarp: the steep, inner portion of a ditch facing away from a castle; also a steep earthen bank at the base of a wall or tower facing away from a castle; scarps were steep banks that made it more difficult for attackers to reach the base of castle walls and towers

Screen: a more or less temporary wooden wall usually within the hall to block the views of doorways, etc from the occupants of the hall; they were often placed in front of the doorways to the Solar, Buttery or Kitchen

Shell keep

Sconce: a device, usually metal, for supporting a torch to a wall

Shell keep: in some motte-and-bailey castles, the palisade and wooden keep at the top of the motte were replaced by a massive stone structure occupying the entire crest of the motte; this stone structure was called a shell keep; some were roofed over but most were only partially roofed over with an open courtyard in the center; a good example it Clifford Tower at York

Shutter: usually hinged wooden flaps that can close off crenels, windows or other apertures in a castle wall

Sink: kitchens may have massive stone or lead sinks for washing and preparing food

Slit: (see also loop); a narrow opening or aperture in a wall; arrow loops are sometimes called arrow slits

Solar: a private room, usually for the lord and his family,
located behind the dais at the end of the hall; it was separated
by a screen and/or wall with and entered from the hall by a door

Spiral Stair

Spiral Stair: most castle stairs were located in the corners of castle walls or, more commonly, in stair towers, called vices; the stairs were supported by a central column called a newel; the stairs usually spiraled up clockwise; this design was an advantage to anyone defending the stairway, backing up, with a sword in the right hand; backing up a clockwise spiral stair, the defender’s right, sword hand was free toward the outer, wider part of the stair; conversely, the right, sword hand of an attacker, coming up the stairs, was forced against the newel and narrowest part of the stairway

Splay: most apertures through a castle wall, such as loops and windows, were wider inside the wall than outside; this widening is called a splay

Spur: a pointed structure extending from the wall or tower of a castle

Spyholes, Peepholes: some walkways within the walls of castles, or solars behind the dais had small shafts that opened into the interior rooms, such as the hall, so that someone in the hallway or solar could spy upon people within the room

Stables: medieval knights depended upon horses and wealthy knights may have five or more each; war horses were very expensive; they were kept in stables and well cared for; stables were often located in the lower or outer bailey of a castle

Stairs: (see Spiral Stairs); access from one level of a castle to another was usually accomplished by stairs, which were usually spiral

Stores: food and weapons were held in secure parts of the castle such as in the basement of the keep; other secure building within the bailey were used as armories or for food stores

Swing Bridge: (see Turning Bridge)

Talus: (see also Batter, Plinth); a slope; the sloping face of a fortification wall

Tiltyard: a tilt was a battle with lances between two mounted knights; smooth, broad areas in and around the castle, such as the list or park, called tiltyards, were sometimes used for knight’s practice

Tower: a tower was an elevated part of a castle intended for defense of specific parts of the castle, such as gates; towers were also places for stairways from one
level of the castle to another; towers were square, round or some other shape
Castle Town & Towers
Tower-house: a fortified house of several stories, most common in Scotland and Ireland

Town Gate: towns were often surrounded by walls and those walls had gates in several places to enter and exit the town; the gates were controlled by a porter and were closed at night

Town Walls: towns or parts of towns were enclosed by walls for protection from animals and attacking people

Tunnels: the stones for many castles were excavated from tunnels dug beneath the castles; in some cases, the stones were hauled to the surface through vertical shafts; these tunnels were often later used for storage of food, wine or weapons; at Dover Castle the tunnels were used as a hospital and command center during WW II

Turret: a small tower, which often had no footing on the ground but hung out over the edge of other castle structures, such as on the corner of a wall or on another, larger tower

Turning Bridge: a castle bridge that pivots on a central axis so that as the outer part of the bridge was raised the inside end rotated into a pit – a big surprise to an attacker on the bridge!

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