Conjunto defensivo de Sta. Isabel Fortín o Luneta de San Bartolomé Cañón de avancarga de 24 libras


A mud or wattle and straw mortar which is made into a brick shape and sun-dried before being used to build walls.

Albarrada (term specific to Spanish castles)

Campaign defence element placed in front of the gates to a besieged fort to stop the people inside from sending or receiving messages or trying to get out.

Alcolea - (term specific to Spanish castles)

Small castle.

Algarrada - (term specific to Spanish warfare) - Trebuchet

Ancient siege engine to hurl stones against fortresses, thus named by King Jaime I

Almenara - Specifically Spanish small watchtower

See "atalaya" - small tower used as a watchtower


In artillery and fir arms, the cannon shaft.


Zigzag trench made by the attacking army towards the pentagonal fortification from the parallel trench. Terrain right outside the external perimeter of a fortification.

Area with arrow loops – shooting area

With arrow loops.


Protective clothing for fighters made up of numerous metal pieces joined by metal chains. Areas needing t o bend were made of chain-mail.

Arrow loop

Tall, high and very narrow slit wider, preferably on the inside, in the walls and breastwork to shoot from. It took various shapes.

Arrow loop/slit/oilet/ (later embrasure)

Long narrow slit in a wall through which to shoot at the enemy. The outer part of the slit was usually wider ((to enable movement of the arm) so the hole was gaping at one side. General term which was also used for firearms in XIX forts.


All arms for warfare designed to shoot large scale projectiles over long distances using an explosive charge to produce the shot.

Artillery store

Part of the bastion on the flank protected by the protruding part which housed the various pieces of artillery the purpose of which was to stop the attackers getting across the ditch. Very strong vault to house one or more pieces of artillery.

Artillery cache

Small artillery cache and without a roof fort the defence of the straight stretches of wall or angles preceding them.

Ajimez (Moorish term in Sapnish)

Arched window divided into two equal parts by a column or frame.


Bailey or Ward

Space between the outer wall and the castle.


Stone, lead or iron ball to charge blunderbusses, muskets, cannons and other firearms.


Earth or rough stone -built area in the shape of a running bench, accessed by a ramp from inside the castle and which is large enough for the soldiers to occupy in two lined, sheltered from fire behind the wall, parapet or defensive wall up to shoulder height.


Isolated advanced building for the defence of squares, bridge-heads, etc., and which the main access path crosses so the enemy can be harassed from there as they try to pass through towards the main fort.


Long parapet without merlons or arrow-loops for artillery pieces to be turned round. *Usually


Hall with a bomb-proof vaulted ceiling built inside the castle walls for the soldiers to live and sleep; food, ammunition and materials were kept there.

Barrier wall or Bray

Lower wall all around the castle as a primary defence. Sometimes with square or round towers, or adjoining walls.


See baluarte.

Bastion facade

Both the flat sides making the flanking angle of the bastion.

Bastion Flank

Side of a military force or the immediate area to the side. Part of the bastion forming an angle with the curtain wall and facing out to the front. Each wall joining the fortified bailey to the bastion faces.


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

Battering Ram

Attacking mechanism consisting of a wooden beam with a strengthened head to batter against the defensive walls and breach a hole in them.


Metal arm used by the infantry as a complement to the rifle; fixed to the outside of the muzzle near the end.


Pasillo situado entre el camino cubierto y la traversa.

Bent entrance

Entrance to a fort comprising several, usually 90 degree bends impeding the use of battering rams or a charge by the attacking forces.


Ancient firearm with an iron shaft and a wooden casing similar to a rifle and which was used by setting off the gunpowder by means of a mobile taper set in the arm itself.


Antique type of rifle from before the invention of gunpowder used to breach castle walls, towers etc., term also used for older arm used to shoot stones like a catapult.

Bombarda - (term specific to Spanish warfare)

Metal military arm with a high calibre muzzle used long ago. Generic term for old pieces of artillery.


Outwork in squares and castles with two inward angles and three outward ones wider at the front than the inside making a swallowtail shape.


Generic term for a small tower forming part of a fortification.


Wooden stick with a match or wick attached to the end to light the cannon from some distance.


Long piece of wood with an spoon-like end t hold the fuse. Once lit, it was touched to the cannon to fire it.

Botefeux or match

Element place in the mouth or end of the bombs, grenades or torpedoes to set light to them..


Building constructed outside a door to protect it.


Firearm charged from the back (at the bottom of the mechanism) instead of down the muzzle.


To cover the parapet or breastwork of a tower or bailey with a convex cylindrical surface, with the aim of deflecting direct shots at the wall and increase resistance to the impact.


Part of a firearm which closes the barrel at the other end from the muzzle.

Bricks and mortar

Any construction or part f the same (wall, vault, etc.) made with stone or brick and mortar. Also given the same name if they were made of adobe.

Brigola – Type of undercarriage

Military apparatus for breaching walls. Could be turned so the shooting direction could be modified.


Tightly packed bundle of slender branches used by military engineers especially for rendering and lifting earth onto the forts embankments. There were also some to crown, set alight, etc.

Buharda - balcony specific to Andalusian Fortresses similar to machelation

See "ladronera" - machicolation

Buhedera - Meurtrière - drop box

Gap in the intrados or pressure surface of the access to the defensive areas to enable harassment of the attackers by taking shots at the enemy by dropping things vertically on them


Mediaeval fortresses built by feudal nobles to watch over the territory in their jurisdiction where groups of merchants and craftsmen etc., settled. It is the origin of many mediaeval cities.


Exterior bank on the lower part of the walls and towers to strengthen them, maintain the distance siege engines at a distance, help projectiles to bounce back and to reduce the dead angles. Used commonly in the mid-XV century.


Triangular flank with a roofless terrace usually on a level with the wall walk.


Small, minimum sectioned buttress without flanking capacity to facilitate the rebound of enemy projectiles from light firearms and giving better control to the wall. A late and mainly decorative element.


Caballero - Cavalier, gun platform

Defensive fort feature, interior and fairly high up in relation to others in the bailey, to make it easier to protect them with fire arms or to dominate them if taken by the enemy. Structures built above the other attack structures n a square, built by the trenches to install the breaching engines.

Cadahalso - see Caldalso

See "Cadalso" - machicolation

Cadalso - scaffold/gallows

Wooden structure hanging by a kind of cantilever or both on towers and on stretches of defensive wall. Generally covered, they have loops in the floor and front for throwing projectiles onto the enemy. Precursor of the meurtrières and machicolations.


See " Cadalso " - machicolation


Internal measurement of fire arms.

Camisa - fausse-braye / outer secondary rampart

In mediaeval fortifications, a wall, lower than the keep which it protects it by its nature. In modern fortifications, stone walls with pillars over earth embankments, the last covering done with stonework.


Artillery piece with a very long muzzle as compared with its calibre, used to shoot shot, balls and certain hollow projectiles.

Cannon Grip

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

Cannon Instruments

Artillery Battery accessories.

Cannon loop

Specific opening for non-portable firearms (e.g. cannons,) made in castle walls, towers and the like at the base or wall walks or parapets.

Cascabel - Rattlesnake end

Front finishing on the muzzle of some cannons in an almost spherical shape. Makes a balancing weight for the cannon.

Cast iron

Metal obtained by heating the pig-iron in a bucket.


Walled group of buildings enclosing a place of arms and around which are a series of dependencies with at least one inhabitable tower. A fortifies construction. Additional defensive elements are: walls, bridges, towers, and the living quarters on high, known as the keep. Built specifically for the defence of strategic areas and the defence of people, the establishment of a lord's power, watching the area, attacks, etc.

Castle Wall or City Wall

Stone, brick or rammed earth encircling a fort as an external defence. It had to be of a height to deter climbing from the outside by attackers and strong enough to resist attack. If the wall encloses the area completely it is called "recinto” - enclosing.

Catapult or Sling Shot

Ancient siege engine for throwing stones and shot.

Cat’s leg

Part of the firing mechanism of some firearms.

Celoquia - Spanish term for all the non-military parts of the fortress

All the buildings in the central enclosed area which was usually the highest within the confines of the castle in which the most typical elements were housed: water cisterns, lodgings and the Keep. Some Keeps were also known as "Celoquia" towers. Residence of the ruler of the castle.

Cerbatana (pea-shooter)

A very narrow calibre arm used in the past.

Cerca - Urban wall or fence

Synonym for an old town wall or fence.


Toughened iron / steel tool with a wooden handle some three decimetres long and with a section of about three square centimetres and the end sharpened into a blade.


Defensive line formed by the besieging army to protect itself from attack from within.


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

Coach house

Stone posts at the corner of buildings to keep the carts. Each of the stone posts placed at the sides of the paths and roads to stop the carts going off the path.


Synonym for rake.

Concession or sometimes, Right to Castellate

Benefit obtained by knights in military orders to take rent from the inhabitants of a place. Usually obtained from the kink


See "cascabel"


Defensive wall which, coming out of the fortified area allows protected access to a nearby point with double thickness wall walk breastwork if it can be assaulted from both sides. It is an enlarged static tower connected by an arch or bridge..


Perimeter moulding on all the exterior parameters of the fort separating the sloping walls from the parapets and towers to stop the enemy climbing up. Usually made of one or two lines of stone on the upper section of the wall.


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


Sloping wall from the ditch opposite the embankment i.e. the campaign side next to the covered walkway.

Counter guard

Outwork in a fort formed by two sides forming an angle build in front of the curtain walls and bastions for their defence.

Counter mine

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

Counter trench

Line of besieging army trenches around a fortress to use to attack it.

Covered wall walk

Watch and access walkway in mediaeval forts which encircles and the ditch surrounding the fort for its defence comprising a banquette from which soldiers could fire over the glacis which acts as the parapet.


Opening in the parapet of wall or at the back of the battery for safe and successful cannon firing.

Crown plate

The head of an interior roof beam resting on the wall and which protrudes to the outside holding the crown of the cornice.


Advanced work or special construction usually open atone side consisting of a central bastion and two curtain walls with two demibastions at the sides.


Space between the merlons on parapets and towers.


Piece of metal in the correct shape to cover the vent and key of the artillery pieces.

Cubilote - Furnace

Vertical, cylindrical oven made of thinly rolled iron and covered on the inside with heatproof bricks in which pig iron is melted down to obtain cast iron.


Solid piece of iron that some projectiles had in the part opposite the mouth for different reasons.


Long, narrow calibre firearm with the farthest reach of its time. There were four different kinds, differentiated by their calibre, demi, quarter or sacred and eighth or "little falcon". They were all between 30 and 32 diameters from the muzzle and were called legitimate unless they were shorter in which case they were "bastards".

Curtain Angle

Angle formed by the face of the pentagonal fortification with the curtain walls.

Curtain Wall

Stretch of wall between two towers in a modern fort.

Cut stone

Large blocks of stone cut into regular shapes ready for building.


Dead area

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

Dedil - Gauntlet with reinforced fingers

Glove with special quilted protection for the first and middle fingers of the left hand. As soon as the soldier set the match to the fuse of the cannon, he had to cover the touch-hole with the glove so it would not blow out and cut off the fire and thus the shot.

Defensive vault

Vault built specifically to be reinforced so as to resist bombardment from the enemy fire thus protecting equipment and ammunition.

Deflecting buttress

Wedge shaped indentation placed in the direct line of sight between the flanking embrasures and create a ricochet resulting in a double miss.


Ditch, an excavation around the fort.


Deep excavation encircling the fort and making the assault difficult as well as covering the defenders' movements.

Ditch protector

The same as guardacaponera.

Dividing Ramps

Mechanism to intercept the advance on a rampart without lowering the external height of the wall changing a stretch of the wall walk which was usually flat into a slope which would be impossible to climb., like a ditch.

Door Beam

See "tranca" - latch.

Door Beam

Thick beam or sleeper which slots into slats in the frame to block it closed.


Strong rigid plank of wood to put over the ditch. 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 favoured the protection of the gate itself. The connection between sleeper bridges and the fort was made by a drawbridge to try to avoid the enemy getting in.


Underground prison to deprive criminals of their freedom and even to leave them to die (especially for murderers)... They were built in the deepest, darkest, dampest part of the castle and were closed with barred gates.


Embrasure splay

Widening of the mouth or exit in arrow slits, the surface of which is flat or, more rarely tronco-conical.


Small indentation in the wall at a height so the defenders will not fall over and to be used for attacking if the fort is taken from the inside although it can be taken by the attackers if they gain the keep. They have been lost from most castles as they were a weaker structure than the rest of the walls.


See "estacada"

Escobillón - Sponge

Instrument made of a long stick with a cylindrical end with a brush around it to clean out the muzzles of fire arms.


Small artillery piece but larger than the small “falconete" above.


Gently sloping ground from the edge of the ditch counter escarpment to where it joins the natural ground.


Esplanade made up of two or three parallel length-wise strips linked together at the head on which the linstocks were put together and set up.


Incline going from the covered walkway to the battlefield. Highest part of the battlements over which the cruels are built. Stone and mortar built ground covering or framework with strong planks over which the linstocks were set up for the battery.



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

Firing angle

The angle making a horizontal line with the axis of the piece.

Fixed cannon

Cannon inside the fortress.


In the middle ages groups of horsemen making forays into enemy territory to sack and pillage.


A primitive fort consisting of a wall provided with arrow slats and loops at the same level as the ditch, in order to defend it. Now it refers to a gallery or a place where arms were kept to flank a ditch or the main area.

Fortified Manor

Widely used term for a residence of some standing often in a defensive position or more or less importance.


Walled city or fortress.

Flanking tower

Tower built outside the fort often joined to it by a bridge or a tunnel and its aim was particularly to be a defence.

Fuse cord trigger

Cord which, when lit, was to set off the cannon producing the shot.


Low wall to improve the defences of the main wall of the fort.

To Flank

Protect the flanks Threaten the enemy flanks. To be positioned in a castle, bastion, hill, etc., as compared with the town, fort, etc., to be able to reach them with the artillery fire crossing or passing through them.


. Each of the two lengths of wall from which the extreme ends of the flanks join to close the bastion and form an angle.



See "gavión" - gavion or gabion


Stone channel and outlet for water from the roof. Sometimes thy depicted fantastic creatures.

Gatehouse tower

Gateway flanked by two towers joined by walkways. The defensive mechanisms include bridges, machicolations, bent entrances, etc. Particular to the Middle ages.


Wicker basket full of earth for defence against enemy fire and open to the trenches.


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

Glancing Shot

Method of firing cannon in which the dose of powder is reduced to make the shot less tense and could damage the soldiers in the covered walkway. Battery of cannon in a line with the covered walkway and the bombs fell on the line bouncing on the floor of the parapet. Invented by Vauban in the last quartet of the XVII century.


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


Hollow metal projectile containing explosive and which is detonated with a howitzer or other piece of artillery. Cardboard, glass, bronze or iron ball or globe the size of a real grenade full of gunpowder with a lit fuse in an explosive mixture. Cattle herds carried them to throw at the enemy.

Grenade Shot

Spherical projectile usually made of iron, high calibre, hollow and filled with gunpowder shot with a mortar for precise height. The hole by which it was filled had a bomb fuse filled with a mixture with which it set on fire the gunpowder, making the bomb explode.


The troops that cover a fort, castle or warship.


Lateral wooden plank made up of side planks of the linstock.

Gun loop embrasure

In mediaeval fortifications, the widening of the arrow/firing loops within the thickness of the wall to ease the movement of the person firing.

Gun Salute

A salute given by firing guns. A series of cannon explosions but without a projectile to honour or salute someone. Simultaneous shot from several identical pieces of the artillery.


Half moon

See "revellín".

Hanging wall walk

This walk is produced by doubling the scale of the wall walk usually by adding a projecting overhang over the main wall.

Head of the Forces

The King's representative within the military hierarchy to take his place in his absence. He was assisted by marshals and other military figures. The title and the functions it entailed were very important in early mediaeval times and probably in imitation, also in Castile at the same time.

Horn flask

Horn flask to keep fine gunpowder in to prime the artillery pieces. It was hung from the waist of the soldier who would prime individual infantry arms (muskets, blunderbusses, etc.) Gunpowder was also poured from the flask into the muzzle of the cannon.


Concave hole in the mine, at the bottom of a bridge etc. to blow it up. Box full of gunpowder or bombs buried beneath some constructions to which they set fire if the enemy gains the fort.


External fortification made of demi-bastions disposed in a curtain. for the same purpose as "tenazas" but is stronger to defend faces and the curtain of the flanks. Usually had a ravel in front of the curtain.


Support on which to lean firearms.



Wooden wedge some 20cm long placed at the foot of the cannon to stop the linstock from marking and weakening the parapet.


Decoration on some old cannons to help the gunners aim.



Taller than the other towers, inhabitable and high security. Had to be able to support a short period of aggression.


The largest tower in a fortification where the nobles stayed.


Familiar name for the keep


The main defensive tower of a mediaeval fortress. It was often a stone-built circular structure around a central yard.

Keep area

Part of a walled area in a town which dominates the rest of the settlement by being higher up.



Part of the key in fire arms detonated by a spark, right by the barrel vent. It was a concave half sphere and was filled with gunpowder so that when the sparks from the flint it would set the gunpowder alight and produce the shot.


Spoon shaped piece f iron with a long wooden handle used to put the gunpowder into cannons when they were primed from a general source.


Thick beam with soil, animal dung, etc., making a defensive shed or shelter. Wooden framework made of two uprights and two cross-pieces to hold soil and brushwood in the trenches.


Part of the wall between two towers or bastions.


Framework made of two supports strongly joined by bolts and locks mounted on wheels and on which the artillery cannon was supported.

Linstock without wheels

Framework similar to a siege engine without wheels on which mortars were to be piled before being shot. Any other framework with a mechanism allowing a cannon supported by it to be moved around.

Lower Ward

Walled enclosure or pen in which to keep cattle, the surrounding population and troops in transit or which were considered unreliable, often next to a larger fortification.

Lower ward

See "albacara".


Small bastion often isolated. Usually protected and reinforced the defences on the angles of the ravelins and bastions.

Ll M


Each of the stretches of parapet between cannon loops. Solid part of the breastwork between the cruels to protect the defending soldier on the ramparts or tower. Usually bearing arrow-slits, and sometimes with supports for the shutters on the cruels.

Mine or Tunnel

Underground gallery which are opened when forts are besieged, with a hidden room at the back full of explosives to destroy the fort.

Mine or tunnel entrance

Arched doorway to get into the countermine.


Inflammable mixture used for incendiary devices and for fireworks.


The ends of a lintel or a projecting part of an outer cornice.


Artillery piece for firing bombs. Short with high calibre.

Mortar shot

A shot made with a mortar. The noise made by the above shot.


Small rifle often used in gun salutes. Groove in the shape of a truncated cone, inverse and oblique which ld pieces of artillery carried.


Natural or man-made hillock on a flat piece of land.


Low mound on a plane. A hamlet with a tower and a bailey surrounded by a fence of stakes and a ditch.


Siege horse, cart, or other vehicle used by the artillery.


Both of the cylindrical pieces of each side of a cannon used to hold it in the linstock and allowing it to be swung round on a vertical plane to correct the direction.


Old firearm much longer and of greater calibre than the rifle and was fired resting it on a stand.


Firearm in loaded down the muzzle.


Noble Tower

Tower which is higher than another which is actually bigger.


Observation Post

Hillock between the cannon batteries so the head of the division could climb up and tell the gunmen in which direction to fire.


Type of fire arm for the artillery to fire grenades, the length of which, relative to the diameter of the anima is greater than a mortar and less than a cannon of the same calibre. It is mounted on carriage on wheels to make it easier to move.


Space in the wall similar to the opening made for a door or window.


Body which protrudes form a bastion with a lengthened front. It was to reinforce the protection of the protection of the arms caches.

Overhanging wall walk

Links two flanking towers across a void by means of a cylindrical vault which allows the soldiers to harass the attackers from above. Usually before the doors.



Strong architectural structure or fort which could be used to keep firearms and artillery pieces from which other strongholds were defended in the walled bailey.


See "empalizada" .


Wooden or metal shutter hanging between the merlons which could be closed over the cruels if the defenders so wished.


Trench traced parallel to the bailey to put it under siege.


Either side of a town or castle wall. also any of the six sides of a hexagonal tower.


Short embankment over the main one as part of the campaign to defend hits to the soldiers' breastplates. In modern forts it is a short embankment on the outside of the covered walkway which covered the soldiers while they were shooting.

Parapet Den, Meurtrière

Small building protruding from the wall with a parapet and paved floor in a wall or tower for the vertical control of a door or gate or corner or other vulnerable part at its foot.


Old fire arm designed to shoot stones.

Pentagonal Sconce

Pentagonal fortification protruding between two curtain walls composed of two façades making a salient facing angle and two flanks joining them to the wall and a narrow entrance or ogee.


Type of mortar secured in a bronze holder and which was supported in a door after charging and made to fire with an explosion. Bone, cane or similar thing filled with powder and compressed so it will make a big explosion when lit.


See "cañón" - cannon.

Pig iron

Iron obtained from high temperature kilns which are the base material for iron and steel works.


Pillar or column backed up against a wall. Can be structural or decorative.

Pinion Trigger

This method makes the powder explode by means of a burning capsule which sets alight when a small hammer hits the capsule. This method replaces the above.

Place for projectiles to ricochet

Part of the front of the bastion shaped like an embankment to facilitate the ricochet of projectiles at an angle which would not be dangerous.


The top of a bastion.


All the techniques for the running of a successful defence.


Empty space at the foot of the inside of a town wall which separated it from the lands outside the town confines.


Barred gate made of iron to defend the entrance to a fort or other parts of the walled area. Also, steel piece with narrow grooves in the breech of firearms of the spark type, made the spark with the blow between the metal piece and the magazine.


Topographical position of a fort.


Secondary door to a fort, small, used for discreet comings and goings and direct exits to surprise the enemy or regroup the troops in the trenches.

Pound (lb)

Old weighing system in Castile, where the pound was divided into 16 ounces. I Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Valencia it had 12 ounces, 17 in the Basque country and 20 in Galicia and other quantities in other towns.

Powder keg

Place where the gunpowder was kept..

Projection Footing

Part of the foundations of a wall that sticks out further than the wall it supports. Cavetto or talus with a scales section.


General term for a fort used both for defence and attack.

Puente durmiente

See "durmiente".

Pulley and weights

Mechanism to raise and lower a drawbridge.

Putlog hole

Holes in the wall to throw scaffolding planks or beams from the floors horizontally down.



Attack and overcome with artillery fire.


Synonym for rake.

Rammed earth wall

Traditional technique in the construction of walls based on a mould or box, made of two parallel planks giving shape to the material. The material was stabilised clay soil which is thrown into the formwork over the foundations. It is pressed down as hard as possible and hammered with mallets to give it consistency. They would continue until a whole line was made. The outside is painted with lime to give it a stiff coating. They become very consistent when dry. Construction based on large continuous sections.


Wooden stick, round at one end and square at the other used by the gunmen to put the piece or cannon into position.


Long wooden stick with a wide hard end used to compact both the shot and the wadding prior to the explosion.


Where a vertical axis rests.


Semicircular outwork with two faces at a salient angle built beyond the curtain the semi golas of which the counter escarpment continued. Allows the curtain wall, the access points and the flanks of a bastion to be protected. Also called "half moon".


Rear section of an esplanade, trench or other part of a fort.


Fort installation behind the line of fire.


Protruding angle formed by a face and a flank adjacent t o a bastion. A bastion has two redans.

Redoubt or Reduit

Fieldwork, enclosed usually with a parapet and some banquettes.

Red Oxide clay

Covering for the inside of the water cisterns avoiding eutrofication (or the build-up of sweet water nutrients which would encourage phytoplankton) in the waters. It is a mainly mixture of iron oxide, mastic resin and red clay... The mastic comes from a resinous bush from the trunk of which a rubber substance known as "almáciga" or mastic is extracted as a clear, translucent, yellowish aromatic resin.


Drainage ditch dug into the bottom of the ditch to get rid of rainwater.


Wooden planks to join or strengthen the framework of the linstock.


Portable firearm for the infantry replacing the crossbow and the blunderbuss. Made up of a steel or iron barrel usually some eight t ten centimetres long and a firing mechanism joined together at the breech.


Moulding to reinforce the mouth of the muzzle of artillery pieces.

Roof terrace

Roof or terrace

Rough cut stone

Block of stone smaller than the above, and cut less precisely in every way.



An arm which was the fourth in the "culebrina" group, to fire balls of four to six pounds.


A long cloth cylinder full of powder to set fore to the tunnels.

Scarped wall

Inclined plane in the main part of the wall from the bead to the ditch and the counter scarped wall which slopes in the opposite direction so the wall supports the earth of the covered walkway.

Secondary Botefeux

TSecondary wick which was set alight at the same time as the one to light the cannon so the operators would know the exact moment of firing. It consisted of two wicks of the same dimensions one of which was inserted into the cannon while the other was held by the soldier. Both were consumed at the same time so the soldiers would know when the explosion would take place.

Sentry Box

Small hollow space for a sentinel to shelter, usually open Appeared and is developed in bastioned forts.


A steel element in the breech of a firearm.


Charge of gunpowder or gunpowder and shot corresponding to each weapon, wrapped in paper or canvas or waxed.


Stone ball used to bombard and shoot.


The shot, using shot, from a firearm.


Direction of the shooting.

Shot - shrapnel

Small munitions to charge the artillery usually bits of nails, metal spikes and bullets.

Siege engine

Wooden tower in wheels, taller tan the wall to be attacked. Once in the best position, the soldiers jumped off it onto the perimeter wall.

Sleeper Wood or Mudsill

Static part of the floor of a bridge just before the drawn part of the bridge , the flanking capacity of which was usually insufficient to reach the embankment of the ditch to be crossed.

Slope or gradient

Imaginary sloping line that joined the crenel to the glacis and other parts of the fort and showed the areas taken from the said vantage points of the crenels. The same thing could be done from the batteries threatening the fort.


Drainage ditch in the bottom of the dry ditches around forts.

Sluice gate

Sluice gate to let unwanted water run out of a ditch or other element of a fort.

Small crown plate

See "can"

Small Culebrine

Type of fire arm to shoot shot of 1.5kg.

Spark mechanism rifle

Rifle with a trigger which when pulled made a spark in the quartz and set it off.

Spark trigger

The key that makes the spark and explodes the gunpowder by burning a bit of it so the sparks from the stones being rubbed together, holding the trigger and thus takes effect.

Spirit level

Apparatus carried by the captain or head of the group and placed on the cannon, as it showed to any variation however tiny of the angle the cannon had to be at for the distance to be shot.


A small half-pyramid, up against the walls and towers to protect them from assault against the siege engines and to encourage the ricochet of the impact to not make holes in the floor.

Spur or buttress

Reinforcement on the lower part of the wall to make them more resistant and hold the rubble that could fall down in case of impact, also stopping the falling rubble from falling into the ditch.


Row of stakes stuck vertically into the ground about half a decimetre apart from each other and held in place with horizontal sticks. Placed on the banquette of the covered walkway in the trenches and in the trenches in other places.

Stone walling

A stone wall built of ordinary stone, and erected in neat rows.

Stone wall Stone

Stone, brick or rammed earth encircling a fort as an external defence. It had to be of a height to deter climbing from the outside by attackers and strong enough to resist attack. If the wall encloses the area completely it is called "recinto” - enclosing.


Traditional construction system in which stones which have not been specially cut are built up using lime mortar. Smaller stone are fitted into the gaps between the larger ones. Many walls and castles were built n his 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, counter guard, etc., i.e. anywhere not in the direct line of fire of the enemy.


Make enough breaches and demolition holes in a fortress to make it useless to the attacker if he managed to take it but without it actually falling down.


On military uniforms the three coloured stripes on each sleeve made from a rough material used by the tunnel diggers to light the wick by rubbing them together briskly.

Stronghold Tower

Stronghold built as a defensive tower.


Exterior defensive construction independent of the main building forming an intruding angle.

24 pounder

A 15-foot long artillery piece that would shoot 24lb shot.


Talcaya or Beacon Watchtower

Tower of Arab origin isolated from the castle, built in an elevated position to watch over the surrounding area. The aim of the towers was to guarantee the safety of an area by notifying enemy presence by means of fire or smoke signals. Access is via an elevated or high level entrance. Sometimes the tower would have a small enclosure around it. It would normally be manned by two men or foot soldiers and a horseman.


Steep reinforcement on the lower part of a wall to strengthen it and keep siege engine away. Also to help avoid the wall being undermined.


Small circular defensive structure erected in front of the doors of a fort.


Outwork, with one or two narrow angles without flanks situated in front of the curtain.


Earth that fills a supporting wall in a walled bailey or which has been put up beforehand and is later clad in stone.


Tin box to keep the fuses in within the castle.

Torre del homenaje – (Keep)

Strong defendable tower designed as the last refuge and so had a life of it own so it could stand alone if the rest of the castle were taken and the castle besieged.


Any circular tower which is part of a fort.


Tall stronghold construction either as part of a wall or not and with many different forms of building and presenting floors inside but by far the greater part were square.


Wall or mass of earth in a rectangular shape in different places along the covered walkway or embankment to avoid soldiers being attacked or shot down while in a file.


Parapet to shelter from lines of fire, on the flank and on the opposite side from the rebound. Outer construction to obstruct the way through in narrow passages. See "tronera"


See "fundibulo"


Ancient siege engine made of a counter balanced weight and a lever with a hollow end like a spoon for throwing projectiles such as stones to demolish walls.


Old siege engine made of wood and used to hurl large stones. The end was spoon-shaped so the shot could gain in height.


Defensive ditch permitting troops to shoot at the enemy while under cover as well as advancing towards over the battlefield to make a final assault.


Mechanism for firing a portable fire arm.


On portable firearms, that when moved produces the shot.


Passageway built into the thickness of the wall above ground level with arrow loops. Allowed rapid and discreet communication within the fort.


Building standing out from the top of a wall, a tower or a fortified gate with a parapet and a paved floor to spy on and harass the enemy from above.


Upper access

Entrance to a fortress above ground level approached by a bridge or stairs.

Use the Secondary Wall

See "camisa"



Stone or brick built curved construction used to cover a space between two walls nr a series of pillars in a line. The different types are named after their shape: groin vault (semi-cylindrical, in half point sections); barrel vault (the result of crossing two cannon vaults at right angles).


Wad screw

A wad-screw is two points of iron in the shape of a corkscrew, to extract the wad out of the piece. Used when the cannon has to be unloaded or dirt must be removed.

Wall tower

Tall construction which protrudes from the castle walls. It can be part of the wall or separated from it.

Wall walk

A path behind the fort's parapets, composing, basically the parapet, secondary defensive route and wall walk, usually open to the elements, which helps in the defence of the fort by allowing the movement of the soldiers.

Wall Walk/Bailey Walk

In mediaeval fortresses, the continuous passage around the exterior perimeter of the walls for the purposes of watching and shooting.

Ward or bailey

See "cinto".

Watch post

Protected Watch tower area which protruded from the top of the main wall of mediaeval fortifications and which hung over the width of the ditch thus breaching the link without having to lean out and expose himself. Usually positioned in the centre of the wall between defensive towers.


See "atalaya" - small tower used as a watchtower

Water Store

An underground tank or cistern or well to keep rainwater in the castle to be used on a daily basis and as a reserve in prologed sieges. Usually there are some ventilation channels and walls covered with heavy hydraulic lime (half lime half sand) and red oxide clay.

Watchtower or Beacon

Strategically placed, this tower receives and transmits visual signals pertaining to the security of the land.


Wood or metal wedge cut at a sharp angle. Used to part or divide solid bodies or to adjust or press one against the other to prize them out or to fill in a space or gap. for cannon it is wooden and is placed under the breach to correct the angle of the barrel depending on the distance away of the object to be shot at.


Small pedestrian only door by the main gate opened in the wall for safety and comfort.

Wicket, sally port

Small pedestrian door which opens in one of the larger doors



Unit of measurement equal to three feet or 836mm.



Advance work by the besiegers protected by their galleries or trenches which they have opened up or under the shelter of the fortification under siege.

Zigzag wall

Castle wall in a zigzag formation to create flanking without towers. In modern forts, reinforcement in a line in front of or opposite a fort to intensify the flank shooting.

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