Glossary a-c

Angle of the bastion – Couterguard
Angle of the bastion. The angle formed by the face of the bastion and its flank.

The bore of the barrel in artillery and firearms.

Depot or general storehouse for weapons and other items of war.

Large blocks of stone cut into regular shapes ready for building walls and masonry arches.

Ashlar work
Work done with ashlars ordered and placed in well-pointed courses.

Weapon of war of the type designed to fire large projectiles over long distances by means of an explosive charge.

Steeply sloped reinforcement for the lower part of the walls te make it stronger and keep siege machines at a distance. Also to prevent digging or mining under the walls.

Long bench-shaped area of earth or rough stone, accessed by a ramp from inside the castle and which is large enough for the soldiers to occupy in two lines, protected from enemy fire up to shoulder height by the wall, parapet or fortification.

Pentagonal fortification projecting outward at the point where two curtain walls meet, comprising two faces that forms a salient angle, two flanks joining them to the wall and an entrance gorge.

Bastion face
Each of the two walls that meet at a salient or which form the capital angle of the bastion.

Bastion flank
Side of a military fort or the immediate area to the side. Part of the bastion forming an angle with the curtain wall and facing out te the front. Each of the walls joining the enclosure to the bastion faces.

All the artillery ready to fire. Artillery unit, usually commanded by a captain, composed of a relatively small number of arms and men.

Stone, brick or adobe wall surrounding a fortress for its external defence. It must be of a height to impede easy scaling by besiegers and robust enough to resist the different attack methods of invaders. If the wall closes on itself it is called an enclosure.

Bomb-proof vault
Vault that has been sufficiently reinforced to enable it to withstand the impact of howitzers and mortars in siege warfare and thus protect the garrison and its munitions.

Manner in which building materials (masonry, ashlars, brick or other elements) are arranged in a stonework construction. Different types of bonds are: stretcher, header, rowlock, etc…

Mediaeval fortresses built by feudal nobles to watch over the territory in their jurisdiction where groups of merchants and craftsmen etc., settled. The origin of many medieval cites.

Part of the ashlar that sticks out from the construction, with rounded or bevelled arrises.

Firearm that is loaded at the back (the lower part of the mechanism, not the muzzle).

Internal diameter or bore of a firearm barrel.

Artillery piece with a very long muzzle in relation to its calibre, used to shoot balls, shot or a certain type of hollow projectile.

Cannon instruments
Artillery battery accessories.

Cannon Grip
Semicircular indentation on the planks of the linstock to house the grips of the corresponding arm.

Fortification that originally consisted of a stockade with loopholes and embrasures at the same depth as the moat to defend it. In modem times the name is given to a gallery or casemate placed at various sites to flank one or more moats from the city.

Very strong vault for one or more artillery pieces. It was situated on the flank of the bastion and protected by the orillon, which housed several artillery pieces, with the aim of preventing the assailant from getting across the moat.

Building with a bomb-proof cannon vault, built within the defence (bastion, fort, etc.) and which also served as a barracks and storehouse for provisions, munitions and material.

Walled group of buildings enclosing a place of arms and around which there are a series of dependencies with at least one habitable tower. A fortified construction. Additional defensive elements are: walls, bridges. towers, and the upper living quarters, known as the keep. Built specifically for the defence of strategic areas and of people, the establishment of noble power, watching over the area, attacks, etc.

Castle Wall or City Wall
Stone, brick or adobe wall encircling a fortress as an external defence. It had to be high enough to deter climbing from the outside by attackers and strong enough to resist attack. If the wall encloses the area completely it is called an enclosure.

High defensive feature within the fort to make it easier to protect with firearms or to dominate in the case of enemy occupation.

Old Spanish word for a town wall.

In mediaeval fortifications, a wall lower than the keep which it protects. In modern fortifications, covering of the earth embankments with masonry walls, the final layer done with stonework.

Fortified enclosed area usually in the shape of a regular polygon, intersecting the inside of a walled settlement which dominates it and constituting the last place of refuge.

Moulded architectural feature which protrudes on a vertical plane and is designed to hold something up.

Perimeter torus on all the external parameters of the fortification separating the banked walls of the parapets from the embrasures, preventing them from being scaled. It normally consisted of one of the courses of stone near the upper part of the parameters.

Outwork in a fort with two faces forming an angle, built in front of the bastions and ravelins for their defence.

Underground passage cut below the enemy to blow them up or to attack them as they work on their own underground tunnels. Countermine networks were dug around strongholds in preparation for these works.

Banked wall of the moat opposite the scarp, which is to say on the side facing the country next to the covered way.

Covered way
Watch and access walkway which encircles and defends the moat surrounding the fortifications, comprising a banquette from which soldiers could fire over, using the glacis as a parapet.

Curtain wall
Stretch of wall between two bastions in modern fortifications.