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Castle Xplorer - Castle glossary
Category: History and Culture > Castles
Date & country: 29/08/2013, UK
Words: 271


Enceinte
a fortified enclosure

Enclosure
castle courtyard

Entresol
a low storey within two high ones (mezzanine)

Feudalism
social system operating in the Middle Ages, according to which land was granted to nobles in return for services

Fillet
narrow flat band

Fluting
concave mouldings in parallel

Foliated
carved with leaves

Footings
bottom part of wall

Forebuilding
structure on the outside wall of a great tower or keep, protecting the entrance and all, or part, of the approaching staircase. Some forebuildings contained chambers and chapels over the stairs

Fort
fortification designed to protect defenders who did not usually live there

Fortalice
small fort or outworks of a fortification

Fosse
a ditch

Freestone
soft, easily worked, high-quality sandstone or limestone

Fresco
painting on wet plaster wall

Frieze
a horizontal band of ornament

Gable
wall covering end of roof-ridge

Gallery
long, narrow passage or room, often overlooking a great hall or garden

Garderobe
latrine; privy, normally set over a stone shaft or drain

Garret
the top storey of a building within the roof

Garrison
the soldiers who manned and occupied a castle or fort

Gatehouse
the entrance building in a curtain wall; usually one of the most heavily fortified parts of a castle

Gauntlet
armoured glove, often with long cuff

Great chamber
lord's solar, or bed-sitting room

Great tower
main tower of a castle, often containing a hall, private chambers and storerooms; also known as a keep or donjon

Groin
junction of two curved surfaces in a vault

Gun-loop or gun-port
opening in a wall for a gun

Half-shaft
roll-moulding on either side of an opening

Hall
principal room or building in a castle, used for meals, meetings and formal occasions. It also served as a sleeping area for servants

Hall House
a defensible two-storey building containing a hall above a basement

Hammerbeam roof
late-medieval form of roof supported on horizontal beams (hammerbeams) projecting from the walls; it enabled the central span of the roof to be open

Heraldry
the system of coats of arms used to identify noble families

Herisson
a barrier of stakes, arranged randomly in the ground to prevent a direct approach from attackers

Herringbone
brick or stone laid diagonally

Hill fort
Bronze or Iron Age earthwork of ditches and banks

Hoarding or Brattice
covered wooden gallery with holes in the floor, which was attached to the top of the external wall of a stone castle so that defenders could see and fire upon assailants at the base of the wall. Also spelt hourding.

Honour
large feudal estate, usually centred on a castle

Hood
arched covering

Impost
wall bracket to support arch

Iron Age
in Britain from c.600 BC to Roman period

Jamb
straight side of arch, door or window

Joist
timber stretched from wall-to-wall to support floorboards

Joust
combat, put on for entertainment, in which two knights rode towards each other with lances

Justiciar
Chief political and judicial officer under Noman and early Plantagenet kings

Keep
fortified tower, the principal stronghold of a castle, also known as great tower or donjon

Knight
man who served his lord as a mounted warrior

L-plan tower house
distinctive Scottish form of the tower house in which a wing was added at right angles to the main tower block

Label
projecting weather moulding above a door or window to deflect rainwater

Lancet window
long, narrow window with pointed head

Light
component part of window, divided by mullions and transoms

Lintel
horizontal stone or beam bridging an opening

Loggia
covered arcade or colonnade

Longbow
large, powerful wooden bow, used to shoot arrows, often over long distances

Loophole
narrow opening through which defenders could shoot

Lord
any male member of the nobility or knighthood, often holder of a castle or manor

Louvre
opening in roof to allow smoke to escape from central hearth

Machicolations
a stone structure that projected from the top of a wall with gaps through which defenders could drop heavy objects, such as rocks, onto attackers below

Mail or chain mail
flexible armour made of interlocking metal rings

Mangonel
stone throwing catapult used as a siege engine

Mantlet
mobile wooden protective shield on wheels

Merlon
solid part of embattled parapet that provided shelter to a defender

Meurtri
alternative name for murder holes

Mezzanine
a low storey beween two higher ones (entresol)

Mine gallery
siegwork to call wall collapse

Moat
a ditch around an enclosure, either filled with water or dry

Motte
a mound, often man-made, on which a castle was built

Motte-and-Bailey
earth-mound with wood or stone keep and an adjoining courtyard with a ditch and palisade

Moulding
masonry decoration

Mullion
vertical division of a window

Multivallate
hillfort with three or more concentric lines of defence

Mural
wall

Mural tower
tower projecting from the curtain wall of a castle

Murder hole
opening in ceiling through which defenders could fire or drop missiles on enemies below

Nailhead
pyramid moulding

Newel
centre-post of a spiral staircase

Niche
vertical recess in a wall, often to take a statue

Nookshaft
shaft set in angle of jamb or pier

Offset
ledge in a wall followed by reduced thickness of the wall

Ogee
a double curve, bending one way and then the other

Oolite
granular limestone

Open joint
wide space between faces of stones

Oratory
private chapel in a house

Oriel window
projecting window in wall

Oubliette
dungeon or pit under the floor, reached by a trap-door, used for incarcerating prisoners

Page
young boy of noble birth who served the household of a lord, and sometimes became a squire

Palisade
timber defensive screen or fence

Pantile
a roof-tile of curved s-shaped section

Parados
low wall on inner side of main wall

Parapet
low wall on outer side of main wall

Pediment
low-pitched gable over porticos, doors, windows etc.

Peel
originally a palisaded court. Later a stone tower house

Pele tower
isolated keep-like tower, built during the later Middle Ages in northern England, but more commonly in Scotland and Ireland

Pend
an open ended passage through a building, at ground level

Perpendicular
English architectural style, c. 1330-1540

Pier
support for archor vault, usually square as opposed to pillar (round)

Pikeman
soldier carrying a pike or similar long-handled weapon

Pilaster
shallow pier used to buttress wall

Pinnacle
ornament crowning spire, tower etc.

Pipe rolls
annual accounts of sheriffs rendered to the king

Piscina
handbasin, usually set in or against a wall, with drain

Pitch
roof slope