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


Pitching
rough cobbling

Plate armour
armour made of jointed metal plates

Plinth
horizontal course(s) of finer stones at the base of a wall to provide better foundation, often projecting from the wall face

Portcullis
wood and iron grille-pattern gate which was raised and lowered in grooves by ropes or chains, in front of or behind an entrance

Postern
small doorway useful for entering or leaving a castle after the main gates had been closed

Put-log
beam inserted into a special hole in a great tower, gatehouse or curtain to support hoarding, or as scaffolding for building or repairs

Quadrangle
inner courtyard

Quatrefoil
four sided

Quoin
dressed stone at corner of building

Rampart
defensive stone or earth wall surrounding a castle or town

Rath
low, circular ringwork

Ravelin
outwork with two embankments forming a salient angle

Re-entrant
angle that points inwards (opposite of salient)

Redan
outwork with two faces forming a salient angle

Redoubt
outwork or detached fieldwork defending a pass, hilltop etc. also a temporary defence work built inside a fortification as a last defensive position

Reeve
peasant appointed as supervisor of work on the lord's land

Refectory
communal dining hall

Relieving arch
arch built in a wall to relieve the thrust of another opening

Rere-arch
arch that supports the inner face of a wall above a door or window opening

Revet
face with a layer of stone for more strength. Some earth mottes were revetted with stone

Revetment
retaining wall

Rib vaulting
arched roof with ribs of raised moulding at the groins

Ringwork
circular earthwork of bank and ditch

Romanesque
architectural style, 8th - 12th century with rounded arches

Roofridge
summit line of roof

Rubble
uncut or only roughly shaped stone, for walling

Rustication
worked ashlar stone with faces left rough

Salient
angle that points outward (opposite of re-entrant)

Sally-port
side gate for defenders to go out on an attack; the postern was often used for this purpose

Saltire
diagonal, equal-limbed cross

Scarp
slope on inner side of ditch

Screen passage
service passage screened off at the service end of a hall

See
seat or area of authority of bishop or archbishop, also known as diocese

Segmental
less than a semicircle (e.g. segmental arch)

Shaft
narrow column

Shell-keep
round wall, usually built on top of a motte, in which the castle buildings are built up against the inner wall forming a circular courtyard

Sheriff
Royal official, based in a castle, who was in charge of law and order

Shifting house
building where gunpowder is checked and prepared

Shot-hole
hole for firearms, generally smaller than a gun-port

Siege engine
large weapon or device, such as a battering ram or big catapult, used to attack a castle

Siege tower
wooden tower on wheels which attackers used to climb over castle walls

Six-foil
six-lobed

Slight
to damage or destroy a castle to render it unfit for use or occupation as a fortress

Slit
a narrow opening in a wall for admitting light and for firing arrows

Soffit
underside of arch or opening

Solar
upper living room of medieval house or castle; often over the hall

Splay
chamfer, or sloping face

Splayed opening
a window or door opening with angled sides in the thickness of a wall that allow more light to enter than is possible with straight sides

Springer
point from which an arch or vault is struck from a wall face

Squinch arch
arched support for an angle turret that does not reach the ground

Squint
observation hole in wall or room

Squire
young man who served a knight, helping him with his horses and armour, who hoped to become a knight himself

Steward
official in charge of running a lord's estate; managing work, keeping accounts, etc.

Stringcourse
continuous horizontal mouldings on wallface

Stronghouse
a mansion capable of being defended

Terreplein
surface of rampart behind the parapet where guns are mounted

Tower-house
form of small castle, common in Scotland, consisting mainly or entirely of a single tower

Tracery
intersecting ribwork in upper part of window

Transom
horizontal division of window

Trebuchet
siege engine in the form of a large catapult

Trefoil
three-lobed

Turret
small tower

Vault
arched roof or ceiling of stone and mortar, usually supported by ribs

Vice
spiral stair

Voussoir
wedge-shaped stone forming part of an arch

Wall-stair
staircase built into the thickness of a wall

Wall-walk
the flat pathway, usually protected by battlements, on top of a castle wall

Ward
a castle courtyard or bailey

Weathering
sloping surface to throw off rainwater

Wing-wall
wall down slope of motte to protect stairway

Yett
iron gate