Tales of Tolgard
Castles are ultimately stone structures meant to defend those within its walls. Often these structures would come under attack or siege so they had to be staffed with sufficient forces to repel such attacks and sufficient supplies to weather said sieges. Every castle is different but they all have, at a minimum, a thick stone wall around them with at least one gate. Additionally, they might have any or all of the following features.
Also known as wall-walks, an allure is the passage behind the parapet of a castle wall. They are an important security feature in castles, allowing quick and easy movement between the towers and the garrison to better defend it. Sentries can watch for approaching enemies from those high position, and defenders could use the wall walks as a fighting platform from which any attackers could be repulsed.
Also known as arrow slits, an arrow loop is narrow opening or cross cut through the outer walls and towers. They enabled defenders to shoot arrows at from within the safety of the castle.
Also called the ward, a bailey is an open area inside the castle complex that houses the domestic and other necessary buildings for the life of a castle’s inhabitants. The inner bailey or inner ward is an area inside the main castle, while the outer bailey or outer ward is outside the central castle’s defenses, which made it more vulnerable to attack.
Also known as crenelations, battlements are the parapets of towers or walls with indentations or openings (embrasures or crenelles) alternating with solid projections. Merlons are the saw-tooth effect or the “teeth” of the battlements that project even higher than those low walls, often pierced with arrow loops.
A special 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 enemies. The batters also add strength to the base of the wall walk.
Concentric castles have two sets of walls, one inside the other. They are usually identical or nearly identical curtain walls and towers that create a symmetry that makes the castle easily defensible by a surprisingly small number of troops.
A corbel is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry the weight of a structure above it. In a castle, these often hold up the battlements. It is between these that machicolations are found to dump various hot liquids on attackers.
Crenelations are the top of a wall or tower that has lower sections or crenels for the purpose of giving a castle defenders positions to fight or fire arrows or bolts through. This protective type of stonework gives the classic outline of the top of a castle wall.
A curtain wall is a wall in a castle that surrounded a courtyard. The curtain itself, a feature common in most castles, is simply a set of walls that surround and protect the interior of the castle. Walls are often connected by a series of towers or mural towers to add not only strength, but to provide for better defense of the ground outside the castle as well.
The donjon is the inner stronghold or keep of a castle. It usually is either square or round. The keep is the center of castle life, often serving as the lord or king’s residence, and was usually the last place of refuge when defending the castle.
The Drawbridge is a wooden bridge leading to a gateway that has the capability of being raised or lowered. This would assist or prevent entry into the castle, and often spanned a ditch or moat.
With regards to castles, dungeons were the jails, often found in a tower. Beyond the scope of a castle a dungeon has a different meaning.
The living quarters for the soldiers defending the castle. Sometimes garrisons are stand alone facilities in towns for the city guard to live in. Garrisons places without a castle or town are usually called forts.
Wooden fortifications added to the crenelations and towers of a castle to provide additional protection for the castles defenders. Hoardings are removable and often provide overhead cover. They also usually provide a walkway on the outside of the crenelations that aided in the dropping of stones and hot liquids on attackers.
The motte itself is an earthwork mound on which the castle is built. The motte and bailey is a type of castle that uses an artificial mound to hold a defensible structure or keep upon it’s summit. Generally, a wide, circular ditch is dug and the earth and stone from the digging thrown up into the middle, in successive, reinforced levels in order to create the mound. Sometimes a natural hill or summit was used when available.
A palisade is a sturdy wooden fence built to enclose a site until a more permanent stone wall could be constructed.