Badge of the Kingdom of An Tir

Parts of a Castle

Sergeants' Candidates must be familiar with the parts of a castle,
should they be required to come to its defense:

  • Arrow Loop
  • Bailey
  • Barbican
  • Basilica
  • Batters
  • Battlement
  • Corbel
  • Crenelations
  • Crenels
  • Curtain Wall
  • Donjon
  • Drawbridge
  • Gatehouse
  • Glacis
  • Hoardings
  • Hoarding Holes
  • Inner Curtain Wall
  • Inner Ward
  • Keep
  • Machicolations
  • Merlon
  • Moat
  • Motte
  • Murder Holes
  • Oubliette
  • Outer Ward
  • Palisade
  • Parapet
  • Portcullis
  • Postern or postern gate
  • Putlog Holes
  • Tower
  • Turning Bridge
An opening in any type of fortification wall, usually shaped like a key hole, vertical slit or cross, that allows an archer to fire his weapon with a great amount of protection. Arrow Loop
An inner courtyard of a castle, sometimes called a Basilica. Bailey
Fortifications, usually consisting of walls and small towers built in front of a gatehouse to provide additional protection to the gateway. Some barbicans were just towers or walls built at a right angle to the Gatehouse. Barbican
An inner courtyard of a castle, sometimes called a Bailey. Basilica
A section at the base of a castle wall that is angled in such a manner to make dropped stones bounced away from the curtain wall and into the enemy. The batters also add strength to the base of the wall walk. Batters
Fighting position on the top of the castle wall or tower. This includes the crenelated wall and the wall walk. Battlement
Stone protrusion from a building wall used to support main floor cross beams or other structures such as machicolations. Corbel
Top of a wall or tower that has lower sections (crenels) for the purpose of giving a castle defender a position to fight or fire through. This protective stonework is the classic outline of the top of a castle wall. Crenelations
(Also called embrasures) Low sections of the crenelations. Crenels
The encircling wall of a castle connecting the towers and other fortifications. Curtain Wall
Central tower of a castle, later developed into the keep of the castle. Donjon
A wooden bridge across a moat or pit that can be raised or withdrawn making crossing impossible. Drawbridge
Strong fortification, usually two towers joined above a main gate leading into a castle. (---------) towers were very large and were able to house a large standing guard, this area of a castle was considered very vulnerable, and as castles became more involved, actually became one of the strongest defensive positions of a castle. Gatehouse
An angling of the curtain wall along the vertical plane that allows the wall to deflect some or all of the force of rocks or other missiles thrown from a siege engine or cannon balls fired from siege cannons. Glacis
Wooden fortifications added to the crenelations and towers of a castle to provide additional protection to the defenders of a castle. Hoardings were removable and often provided overhead cover. They also usually provided a walkway on the outside of the crenelations that facilitated the dropping of stones and hot liquids on attackers. Hoardings
Holes in the castle walls to support the Hoarding. Hoarding Holes
Defensive wall within a castle dividing the inner area into two or more defensive areas. Inner Curtain Wall
Large inner courtyard contained inside a castle, usually the ward located around the keep. Inner Ward
The central fortification in a castle, usually a tower or building strongly fortified in the inner ward that provides the defenders with a final defensive position, as well as providing living quarters. The keep often is also the tallest fortification in a castle, with a commanding view of all the fighting positions. Keep
Permanent stone additions to a castle's battlements, providing better cover for defenders. These are similar to hoardings, but are made of stone and are permanent additions to a castle. Machicolations
The upward portion of a crenelation, the part of the top wall located between the embrasures or crenels. Merlon
Trench dug around a castle often filled with water. Moat
The natural or artificial hill upon which the keep of an early castle was built. (i.e., motte and bailey castles) Motte
Holes left in the floor of the upper level of a gatehouse, used to thrust pole weapons down at attackers trapped in the inside passage of the gatehouse. The inside passage was the area joining the outside and inside gates. Murder holes were also used for dropping stones and other unpleasant things onto enemies. Murder Holes
A dungeon or cell with the only opening being a trap door in the ceiling. Oubliette
(Also sometimes call the bailey). Large courtyard outside of the inner ward but still held within the out curtainwall. Outer Ward
Fortification wall made of wood. Palisade
Walkway located behind the crenelations of a castle, or the fighting platform area of a castle tower. Parapet
Sliding secondary gate used to guard a castle entrance, usually made of vertical and horizontal metal bars or reinforced wood beams. This was designed to make the use of rams against the main gate less effective. Portcullis
Small secondary gate, often too small for horses to pass through, located in the side walls of the castle curtain wall. Postern or postern gate
Holes in the castle wall used to support scaffolding. Putlog Holes
Circular or Square fortification used to provide stability and additional defensive capabilities to the curtain wall. Tower
Drawbridge pivoted in the middle. Turning Bridge

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This page was last updated February 25th, 2020.

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