How did you do? It’s probably one of those activities that build over the period of a couple of weeks. It certainly has for me and has been a popular challenge with He Who Is Occasionally Obeyed. No doubt we’ve forgotten a few. If you’ve got more than 50 can I just check that you’re not James St George who built Edward I’s castles?
Anteroom: small outer room – think of it as a waiting room or a connecting room that you have to get through before arriving in a larger room. Ie a large body of men couldn’t rush through an anteroom and attack everyone in the great hall , they’d have to file through.
Bailey: A courtyard defended by the outermost ring of a castle wall is called the outer bailey. Sometimes the bailey is also described as a ward. The outer bailey usually contains ancillary buildings. In very large fortifications that is an outer, middle and inner bailey. The inner bailey is the courtyard nearest to the keep. If a castle is built on a hill the arrangement may be described as an upper and lower bailey – but basically it’s all the same – a way of describing how close a courtyard is to the defensive centre of the castle.
Barbican: A stone building protecting the gateway or entrance of a castle.
Barrel vaulting: ceiling curved like the inside of a barrel.- at its most simple a set of arches side by side. Helps make the walls thicker and stronger. Often reinforced by ribs.
Bastion: Angular projection in the wall – to provide better defensive fire.
Battlements: A parapet with indentations and raised portions (merlons). Battlements are sometimes called crenellations. You would need a licence from the king to crenellate.
Berm: the bit of land between the moat and the curtain wall.
Buttery: Room to store drinks – rather than butter think wine, beer and ale.
Buttress: stone support for a wall.
Cannonier – gun port – demonstrating that castle architecture evolved to reflect the development in weaponry.
Casemate: fortified gun emplacement
Cistern: Tank to store water.
Concentric: Castles built with rings of stone walls one inside the other. Think Edward I.
Crenet: Another name for an embrasure which is the open bit behind an arrow loop where someone can stand and draw their weapon.
Curtain wall: Connecting wall between towers of a castle – or if there are no towers the wall that makes up the main defensive portion of the castle.
Drawbar: The rather large wooden beam used to secure the rather large wooden gates.
Drawbridge: The wooden bridge that clatters down or up so that horses can gallop across the moat into the castle – as evidenced on many a good black and white Hollywood blockbuster.
Drum-Tower: A large circular tower that was usually low and squat.
Fore building: The building infant of the keep – a bit like a pawn in front of the king on the chess board – it’s there for defensive purposes.
Fosse: A ditch surrounding a castle – for those who can’t afford moats or who wish to demonstrate their grasp of Latin.
Garderobe: Castle toilet. The garderobe was often a projection from the wall over the moat or alternatively it was a chute that dropped into the base of a tower which periodically had to be cleared out (lovely.) You would also keep your spare clothes in the garderobe chamber as the smell kept moths at bay….and possibly everything else as well.
Gatehouse: A building protecting the entrance to a castle. Larger castles might have an outer and an inner gatehouse adding to the number of defensive structures to be surmounted by attackers.
Gate passage: passageway beyond the main gate leading through the curtain wall to the outer bailey.
Great Hall: The main room in the building where the castle owner and his family lived. We tend to think of great halls as being part of the keep but there are castles where the great hall is separate to the main defensive structure.
Hoardings – the wooden structures built out from the top of the curtain wall or towers.
Keep: Main stone tower of a castle. It was also known as a donjon.
Lancet: Long, narrow window with pointed head – good for defensive projectiles. Plus who wants a big draughty window with no window panes in the middle of winter? To be fair many solar windows were lined with thin horn window panes or glass or there would have been shutter.
Loop: Narrow opening in castle wall that was used by archers to fire on attacking soldiers.
Machicolations: Projecting stonework on the outside of castle towers or walls, with holes in floor for dropping missiles on people attacking the castle.
Moat: A deep wide trench round a castle, sometimes called a ditch or a fosse.
Motte: A mound of of soil. Some mottes were only about 5 metres (16 feet) high, but some were over 18 metres (60 feet). The Normans built wooden watchtowers on the top of their mottes. Gradually motte and baileys were rebuilt in stone. Many small motte and baileys date from the Anarchy when Stephen and Matilda fought one another for the throne.
Motte and bailey: basic keep sitting on top of a mound. The mound would usually be surrounded by a palisade. Motte and bailey castles were initially built from wood and were later rebuilt in stone – somewhat reducing the fire hazard. The bailey was a bit of flattened earth near the motte.
Mural tower: A tower built into the wall.
Mural passage: A passage or corridor in the wall itself.
Murder-Holes or meutrieres in the roof or ceiling of a castle – usually leading to a gate house or through a passage into a ward.These were used for pouring scalding water, hot oil or other equally unpleasant stuff on attackers who had managed to enter the outer defences of a castle.
Palisade: A strong timber fence built on top of an earth rampart – usually seen in depictions of early motte and bailey castles of the kind build by Norman Conquerors.
Pantry: room near the great hall used to store food.
Parapet: A low wall on the outer side of the main wall.
Portcullis: Grating made of metal and wood. The portcullis was dropped vertically from grooves to block passage through the gate of the castle – to prevent entry or indeed exit through gateways. Castles often had more than one portcullis so that attackers might find themselves trapped beneath the handily placed murderholes.
Postern gate: the back door – for daring escapes and raids.
Rampart: A defensive stone or earth wall surrounding a castle.
Sally port: Another name for the back door for daring escapes and raids.
Screen(s) passage: Passage way for the transport of food and drink from the pantry and buttery by servants for the enjoyment of those in the great hall.
Shell-Keep: A wall surrounding the inner portion of the castle -think of an onion. The curtain wall is the outside skin, the shell-keep is the layer closer to the middle of the onion.
Solar: The upper living room of castle. The solar was usually situated above the hall and was used mainly as a bedroom. It was often the only semi-private accommodation in a castle.
Spiral staircase: does what it says on the tin.
Tower: Towers usually comes as square, polygonal, or round – and let’s not forget the drum tower.
Turret: A small tower. A turret on top of the main tower was often the main observation point in a castle.
Vice: a spiral staircase – cos why have one self explanatory word when you can have another more complicated one as well.
Wall-Walk: A passage along the castle wall. It can also be called an alure if you really want.
Window seat: Does what it says on the tin.