A Glossary: Castle Terminology

This castle glossary will name and define the parts of castle architecture, castle structure and construction, knights and warfare, and defense terms.
The terms are in English and German. The definitions are in English.

English Word

German Word


Abacus: Unknown The term that defines that flat portion on top of a capital.
Adulterine: Unknown The term that is used to define a castle built without royal permission when such permission is required.
Allure: der Spaziergang A walkway along the top of a wall.
Arcade: der Bogengang An arched covered passageway with columns or piers
Arch: der Bogen A typically curved structural member spanning an opening and serves as a wall support above doors and windows.
Armoury: die Waffenkammer
das Waffenlager
or das Zeughaus
A storehouse for the castle's weapons.
Arrow loops: der Pfeil Schleifen
die Schießscharte
A vertical narrow slit built into a wall through which arrows are shot.
Ashlar: Unknown Hewn squared and shaped blocks of building stones.
Atilliator: Unknown A skilled castle armory worker who made crossbows.
Bailey: die Hoff The outer courtyard or ward inside the castle walls used for outdoor activities.
Baluster: der Baluster A small column of wood or stone used to support a load.
Ballista die Balliste A siege machine that resembles a giant crossbow that is used to propel missiles at a target.
Balustrade: die Balustrade
die Brüstung
A railing topping a row of balusters placed along a walkway or an outside stairway.
Bar Hole: das Stab Loch A hole in a wall used to receive the door bolt.
Barbican: der Schießscharte
der Wehrturm
An outer defense work of a castle, often a heavily fortified gate tower.
Bartizan: der Scharwachtturm, Bergfried An overhanging wall-mounted turret projecting from the flank of a tower or a wall, usually placed at the top the walls.
Bastion: der Bastion A small enclosed tower placed at the edge of a curtain wall and used primarily as watch or guard post.
Batter: der Teig That part of the outside base of the curtain wall which is sloped at a 45º angle. It is used to bounce rocks off of into attacking forces.
Battering Ram: die Sturmram
der Rammbock
A heavy pole used for knocking down gates and walls.
Battlements: die Zinnen Parapits with crenelations and merlons (raised part) forming a narrow outer wall along the curtain walls.
Battice: Unknown A timber tower or a projecting wooden hoarding or gallery.
Berm: der Böschungsabsatz A narrow shelf, pathway, or ledge typically at the top or bottom of a slope. Also a mound or wall of earth.
Also, that strip of ground between the outer curtain wall on the moat.
Blockhouse: das Blockhaus
die Blockhütte:
A timber or stone structure with arrow loops used for defense.
Bolt: der Bolz
der Bolzen
A Shaft or missile designed to be shot from a crossbow or catapult.
Bolt die Schraube
der Riege
A wooden or metal bar used to secure a door or gate.
Boss: der Schlussstein An ornamental projecting block of stone or wood.
The keystone of an arch, usually of granite stone.
Breastwork: der Brustwehr A low wall or railing used to protect the edge of a platform, roof, or bridge.
Also, sometimes a temporary fortification used in the defense of the castle during battle.
Bessumer: Unknown Wooden beams used to support a project from a wall.
Butt joint: das Kolben Gelenk A joint made by fastening the parts together end-to-end without overlap. Often reinforced by wrapping or bolting.
Buttery: die Getränkekammer
die Vorratskammer
The storeroom for wine and other beverages.
Buttress: der Strebepfeiler A projection of masonry or wood used to enforce and strengthen a wall.
Type 1: Flying buttresses are a narrow arched bridge built against the wall.
Type 2: Pilaster buttresses gradually recede into the wall as it ascends.
Castle: die Burg From the Latin castellum; A fortress,
and castrum; A fortified place:
A large fortified residence or a fortified set of buildings.
Cap Stone: der Schlussstein A coping stone, used in the covering course of a wall or placed upon a post.
Capital:(Stonework) das Kapital, or
Der Hauptstadt Stein
The uppermost member of a column or pilaster crowning the shaft and taking the weight the entablature.
Castellan: der Castellan The official in charge of a castle.
Catapult: Die Wurf Maschine, or Steinschleuder A type of siege machine designed to throw large heavy stones or missiles at a target. (See Trebuchet)
Cesspit: der Senkgrube The area where the contents of the garderobes was collected.
Chamber: die Kammer An arched roof. A bedroom. A hall for meetings
Chapel: die Kapelle A private place of worship inside the castle walls.
Chamfer: die Schrägkante To shape the edges of two stones such that they will fit closely together.
Chevron: der Sparren A pattern having the shape of a V or an inverted V.
A heraldry charge consisting of two diagonal stripes meeting at an angle usually with the point up.
Cistern die Zisterne, or
Der Wasserspeicher
A storage place for water.
Citadel: der Festung A fortress. A heavily fortified military castle.
Cloister: der Kloster A covered passage way on the inside of a courtyard.
One side is the courtyard wall and the other side is an open arcade.
Cobblestone: der Pflasterstein A naturally accurring rounded stone larger than a pebble and smaller than a boulder.
Such stones may be used in paving a walkway, a floor, or in other areas of construction.
Coffer: das Kasten Recessed ornamental panels placed in the ceiling or vault.
Column: Die Saüle
Die Spalte
A cylindrical supporting pillar, usually made of stone or wood, that supports a heavy structure.
Concentric: Das konzentrische Two set of high defensive walls, with one totally inside of the other.
And with both enclosed areas having a common center.
Coping: das Bewältigen The covering course of a wall usually with a sloping outward top.
Cope Stone: Das Bewältigen Stein A stone shaped for and used for covering the top course of a wall.
Note: Sometimes Slate stone or fired clay tiles were used.
In other cases wooden shakes were used especially where crenelations and merlons needed covering.
Corbel: der Kragstein An architectural member that projects from within a wall and supports a timber beam or a joist for a floor or a roof joist or rafter.
Corbeling: der Kragstein werk Corbel work or the construction of a corbel
Counter-weight: der Gegengewicht An equivalent weight or force. Important for lifting heavy objects, such as a drawbridge or a portcullis.
Cord: die Schnur A long slender flexible material consisting of several twisted strands woven or twisted together.
Nearly as important as string in building a castle.
A measure of volume of wood; 4ft wide, 4ft high, and 8ft long. Or 128 cubic feet.
Crenels Unknown The open spaces between the merlons on an battlement fortifications.
Also some are known and used as embrasures.
Crenelation: Unknown That which the crenels and merlins form as an battlement fortifications
Cupola: der Kuppel A rounded vault resting on a usually circular base and forming a roof or ceiling.
A small structure built on a roof.
Curtain wall: die Aussenmauer, or
Die Vorhang Wand
A castle wall enclosing the entire castle or a courtyard.
Daub: der Schmieren A mixture of clay, straw and hair, used to cover house walls made of wattle.
Donjon (Keep): der Wohnturm The stronghold of a castle. Where the castle's owner lived.
Drawbridge: der Zugbrücke A wooden bridge, capable of being raised or lowered, used to open a passageway or gate.
Dungeon: der Kerker
das Verlies
The jail, usually a ground level in one of the towers.
Embrasure: die Schiessscharte An opening in the merlins through which arrows or bolts may be fired.
Escalade: die Erstürmung To scale or climb over the castle walls and fortifications.
Finial: die Kreuzblume A usually foliated ornamentation forming a crowning decorative detail.
Forebuilding Unknown A structure that projects from a keep to house the entrance stairway.
Foundation: das Fundament
die Grundlage
die Gründung
The base of a structure that provides stability for and supports the entire weight of a castle structure.
der Grundstein The first stones laid to form the foundation for a wall, pillar or column.
Gallery die Galerie An outdoor roofed balcony used for patrolling the castle walls.
A corridor or room devoted to the exhibition of castle portraits and treasured trophies.
Garderobe: der Kleiderschrank A clothes closet or clothing storeroom or the private chamber of a nobleman or a royal person.
Garrison: die Besatzung A permanent base or lodging for troops.
Gate: das Gatter,
or Das Tor
Large heavy wooden doors to control the entry into a castle.
Gate House: das Tor Haus The complex of gates, portcullis, drawbridges, and barriers built to control the entrances to a castle.
Hall: die Halle
der Saal
The principal living quarters and meeting room of a castle.
Hoarding: das Horten
der Bauzaun
der überdachte Wehrgang
A covered gallery built on or near the top and outside of a curtain wall or tower to defend against attackers.
Inner Ward: der inner Aussenhof The inner Bailey or courtyard of a castle.
Keep: der Wohnturn,
der Bergfried
The strongest tower of a castle, and usually the tallest.
Kennel: der Zwinger, der Hundepension A place to keep animals, usually hunting dogs.
Keystone: der Keilstein
der Mittelstein
The important center stone of a stone arch.
Knight: der Ritter A mounted warrior who served his lord during feudal times. Also, a member of an Order or Society.
Knight's Castle: die Ritterburg A castle owned by a knight.
Knight's Hall: Die Halle des Ritters A large room or chamber witin a castle in which knights gather for meals, meetings, and to plan their next activities.
Knight's Quarters: das Ritterhaus Knights House or Building.
Latrine: die Feldtoilette
die Latrine
A receptacle used for a toilet
Lookout Tower: der Wachturn A carefully placed guard or watch tower with a commanding view of a strategic area or place.
Loophole: die Schliessscharte Narrow slits in fortifications through which arrows may be fired.

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This Castle Glossary is believed to be correct and we will continue to enlargen this list as time permits.

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This page was last updated November 24, 2015.