Glossary d - m

Dead area
Sector of the approaches that cannot be shot at from any angle.

Strong, rigid piece wood that went over the moat. In case of enemy attack the bridge was raised using a complicated mechanism of pulleys, chains and weights. Raising the drawbridge stopped the attackers from getting in and worked te protect and reinforce the gate itself. The connection between sleeper bridges and the fort was made by a drawbridge to try to prevent the enemy getting in.

Opening specifically for shooting with non-portable arms (e.g. cannon), made in fortifications, towers and turrets, as often in the base as in their walls or roofs.

See Belt.

Incline going from the covered walkway the countryside. Highest part of the walls, on the edge of which the battlements are built. Stone flooring or framework with strong planks on which a battery’s gun carriages were mounted and moved.

Principal front of a building that faces the street or open space.

Either side of a town or castle wall. Also any of the six sides of a cut ashlar.

Tightly packed bundle of slender branches used by military engineers especially for rendering and binding earth into the embankments of the fortifications. They were also used to crown, set alight, etc.

Artificial barricade of the height and thickness needed to resist a shot or a ricochet.

Fixed cannon
Cannon inside the fortress.

Fortified enclosure.

Fortín (Spanish term)
Small fort.

Large fortified enclosure such as a castle, citadel, etc.

Each of the two lengths of wall from which the ends of the flanks join to close the bastion and form its angle. Two bastions and the curtain wall that joins them form a bastioned front.

Stone channel and outlet for water from the roof. Sometimes decorated with zoomorphic creatures, many of them fantastic.

Soldiers that garrison a city or castle.

Open area free of vegetation or obstacles all around a modern fortress, on a slight slope to make the enemy’s approach difficult. The area went right up to the edge of the covered way.

Entrance from the city to the bastion, or distance between the flanking angles. Straight imaginary line for when there is no parapet joining the flanks of a defensive construction.

Piece of historical graffiti. Hand-done writing or drawing left on ancient monuments, typically carved or done with graphite.

Inflammable mixture used for incendiary devices and fireworks.

Half moon
See Ravelin.

External fortification made of demi-bastions joined by a curtain wall. Serves the same purpose as a tenaille but is stronger as it defends both the faces and curtain of the flanks. Usually had a ravelin in front of its curtain wall.

Artillery piece that fires grenades, the length of which, relative to the diameter of the bore, is greater than a mortar and less than a cannon of the same calibre. It is mounted on a wheeled carriage to make it easier to move.

Lienzo (Spanish word)
Stretch of wall that goes between twa censecutive towers or bastions.

Lined (or groove) bore
In artillery pieces and all firearms in general, a barrel with helical rifling inside to increase the range.

Long, narrow opening in a wall for shooting out of. It was usually wider on the outside, so the hole flared out. A generic word that was even adopted by fusiliers in 20th-century forts.

Small bastion, tended te be isolated. Usually protected and reinforced the defences on the angles of the ravelins and bastions.

Building for keeping gunpowder and other explosives.

Traditional construction system in which stones which have not been specially cut are built up using lime mortar. Smaller stones are fitted into the gaps between the larger ones. Many walls and castles were built in this way. Larger stones were used in the lower parts of the wall. Sometimes the two faces are different, in which case the outer one is worked more. In modern forts it is used to build walls from the entrance ravelins, counterguards etc. – anywhere not in the direct line of enemy fire.

Each of the stretches of parapet between embrasures. Solid part of the breastwork between two battlements to protect the defending soldier on the ramparts or tower. Usually having loopholes, and sometimes with supports for the shutters on the battlements.

Cavity made in a shaft, bottom of a bridge etc. in which to insert gunpowder and blow it up. Box full of gunpowder or bombs buried beneath some constructions which was set off if the enemy gained the fort.

Mine or Tunnel
Underground gallery which is opened when forts are besieged, with a hidden room at the back full of explosives to destroy the city fortifications.

Mine or tunnel entrance
Arched doorway giving access to the countermine.

Deep excavation encircling the fort and making assault difficult as well as covering the defender’s movements.

Mortar (artillery)
Artillery piece for firing shells. Short with high calibre.

Firearm that is loaded through its muzzle.