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Castle Terms Page 3 of 3
Term Definition
Palatine Palatinate. Independent rule of a count with royal authority in his territory
Palisade Early walls of timbers serving as outer defensive elements in motte and bailey castles and Roman forts and camps
Parados Low wall in inner side of main wall.
Parapet Low wall extending up at the external side of the wall-walk. Usually battlemented with crenellations.
Patrocinium Benefice, patronage. A form of protection by a patrone (land owner, church, powerful individual) in return for any variety of services from personal to agriculture to defensive/offensive involvement.
Pavice See Mantlets. Name may have developed from the assault on Pavia, Italy, the Lombard capitol, where the name pavice originated.
Pediment Low-pitched gable over porticos, doors, windows. Triangular section above entablature.
Peel The small yard of a small tower(called peel tower); typically, a fortified house on the border. The yard was for protecting livestock from roving bands
Pellet Circular boss.
Perpendicular English architectural style (1330-1540).
Petit appareil Small cubical stonework.
Petrariæ A catapult style weapon introduced about the fourth to third century B.C.
Pfalz palatinate
Phalanx Tactics. A dense battle formation of foot soldiers or warriors with shields forming a wall. Very effective in only open field battle.
Pier Support for arch, usually square. Distinct from column
Pilaster Shallow pier used to buttress a wall. Projecting slightly from wall face. Rectangular
Pillory A two-piece wood frame in which a hole for the neck and two for the wrists of the convict were formed as the upper half swung down in contact with the lower
Pinnacle Ornamental crowning accent on spire, tower, buttress, etc.
Piscina Hand basin with drain, usually set against or into a wall in chapel.
Pitch Roof slope.
Pitching Rough cobbling on floor, as in courtyards.
Plinth See also Batter. An additional sloping thickness of stone at the base of a wall for extra strength and support
Portcullis A gate-like grid framework of timber with sharp, iron covered tips protruding from the bottom: Used to drop from above in tracks to trap or block an enemy
Postern Gate Sally Port. A minor gate away from the portion of a castle most likely to be attacked to facilitate secret departure of reconnaissance or harrassing patrols.
Precarium Grant of lease of land for cultivation as a rental arrangement. May have been for either payment in funds, produce or both.
Prow sharp seam at the apex of two deeply angled surfaces
Putlog Beams placed in holes to support a hoarding or horizontal scaffold beams
Putlog Holes Holes built into castle walls to support scaffolding during construction, for maintenance, and at the top, to support machicolations during siege
Quadrangle Inner four cornered courtyard surround by a building or complex of buildings
Quarrel See Bolt. A heavier arrow designed for crossbow use
Quintain A central post with a revolving cross-pole that carries a jousting target at one end and a sand bag hung from the opposite end used for practice by mounted knights
Quoin Cornerstone at theangle of a building. Also applies to the angle itself.
Ram Battering ram based on large log with a metal point or tip, usually swung along its length from an inverted V-shaped support structure to batter gates
Rampart An elongated or encircling bank/mound of earth serving as an obstacle or earthen wall, sometimes aupported by revetments of stone
Rath Stone ringworks dating to early structures of Irish chieftains. Also a Hindu rock-cut temple, south India.
Ravelin Two faces of an outer wall meeting to form a bow-like angle
Redoubt Any stronghold. A breastwork fortification on the exterior of a castle or in front to defend approaches.
Re-enter postern In some castles a separate postern each for departure and return were provided. The return postern so designed that soldiers need not expose their unprotected right side while retreating.
Refectory Common dining area of a monastery.
Respond Half-pillar at the end of an archade
Revetment An arrangement of stone or other material to prevent erosion of an earthen bank. facing of stone to support an embankment. Retaining wall or a face of stone slabs on an incline.
Rib Ceiling or vault moulding or band usually as a support.
Ringwork Circular earthwork of bank and ditch.
Romanesque Architectural style that dominated 9th to 12th century Europe. Greatly increased use of concrete forms such as piers to accentuate form and divisions.
Roofridge The apex of a sloping roof. Ridge
Rubble Rocks, pebbles and mortar used to fill the space between the outer and inner faces of a stone wall as an economic means to build thickness in fortifications
Rustication Stonework with the outer edge left or made rough. Mostly in Renaissance building.
Salient A projection. That part of a battle line, defensive construction or fortification projecting furthest toward an enemy or expected incursion.
Sally-port See postern
Sapper Member of a team of men digging beneath a fortification wall to weaken it and cause its collapse. See miner
Scaffolding The temporary three-dimensional framework of wood poles used to support platforms and enable workers to access high sections in the construction and repair of walls. Supported on putlogs.
Scale An assembly of overlapping disks with a resulting fish scaling appearance.
Scaling Siege technique of climbing ladders to achieve access to the castle parapet.
Scarp Slope on inner side of ditch.
Segmental Segment of a circle. Anything reduced to segments, sections.
Seneschal See Steward
Serf Villein. Common unfree laborer usually living in servitude to a lord. Above a slave, but tied to his obligation and land in a hereditary contract that also bound his descendents.
Shell Keep A keep consisting mostly of only an outer shell or wall, topping a motte, without roof. Roofed living quarters have been built in the interior, backed against the shell.
Shield Wall (Schildmauer - Germany) An especially strong wall placed at the approach to the main castle or a vulnerable exposure to the castle.
Siege A major assault for the purpose of capture by a significant force on a castle either in the form of attack or forced isolation to deny resupply of food and water
Siege Engine See Ballistae, Catapult, Mangonel, Petrary, Siege Tower. A variety of wood-built machines for launching missiles at a castle
Siege Tower Beffrois, berfrei. Multiple-storied wheeled wood tower built on-site during a siege to the height of the castle wall to deliver attackers via drawbridge to the top of parapet.
Solar Private room of the lord, his family and guests, usually accessed by stairs from the great hall.
Spandrel Traingular area enclosed above the upper surface of an arch or between two arches.
Splay Surface created by a chamfer
Spring Point above the column where the springers (voussoirs) begin to curve.
Squint Observation hole in wall or room.
Squire See Page
Stepped Gable Castle gables resembling stair steps
Steward Seneschal. The man responsible for running the day-to-day domestic and financial affairs of the castle for the lord. Even military in France
Stockade Solid fence of heavy timbers.
Stringcourse Continuous horizontal moulding on wallface.
Throat Ditch A section of a rock or other finger of land upon which a castle has been built that has been cut away and replaced with a drawbridge
Tooth-in – Stones removed (or omitted) to allow another wall to be bonded into it.
Tournament Knight's competition and demonstration that often imitated real battles and usually including jousting and other demonstrations of warrior pursuits.
Tracery Ornamental pattern in stone in upper part of Gothic windows. Also refers to same type of ornamental work in wood.
Transom A horizontal bar dividing windows into sections.
Trebuchet Large sling-type siege engine using a counterpoise to launch boulders and other material at or into fortifications to cause destruction, panic and disease
Trefoil In tracery, a panel divided into three.
Troubadour Professional musician who usually traveled from town to town.
Truss A timber frame used to support the roof over the great hall.
Trustes fideles/antrustiones. Band of those warriors or close advisors sworn to a lord
Trutzburg castle constructed to lay siege on opponents castle or fortifications
Tufa Stone of a cellular or porous consistancy as in volcanic rock or limestone
Turnier tournament
Turning bridge A drawbridge that pivots in the middle.
Turret An enclosure, usually large enough for one man, as a mini tower, to facilitate sentry observations along wall and tower bases, higher than the edifice it is attached to.
Vassal The more subservient of two men in an aliegence often based on the granting of land in return for the service, usually military, of the vassal to the lord, baron or monarch.
Vault An arched covering in stone or brick over any building.
Villein Common unfree laborer usually living in servitude. See Serf.
Vögte constables
Volute Spiral scroll at angle of a capital atop a column.
Voussoir Wedge-shaped stones in arch.
Wall Walk A walkway along the tops of castle walls and behind battlements for observation and defense
Wappen coat of arms
Water-leaf Plain broad leaf moulding.
Wattle A combination of sticks, weeds and other natural material plastered with daub and used as fill between timber framing in half-timber structures
Weathering Sloping surface to throw off rainwater.
Wicket Person-sized door set into the main gate door.
Wing-wall Wall downslope of motte to protect stairway.
Yett Iron lattice gate.