Penrith Castle © The Richard III Foundation, Inc.



The space between the arcade and outer castle wall.


See wall walk.


In a castle, the aisle around the apse.


Series of arches, free–standing, supported by columns. Common feature in both secular and religious architecture.


A curved structure spanning an opening and serving as a support. Segmental: a single arc struck from a center below the springing line; Pointed or TwoCentered; two arcs struck from centers on the springing line, and meeting at the apex with a point; Segmental Pointed: a pointed arch, struck from two centers below the springing line; Equilateral: a pointed arch struck with radii equal to the span; Lancet: a pointed arch struck with radii greater than the span; Three–Centered, Elliptical: formed with three arcs, the middle or uppermost struck from a center below the springing line; Four–Centered, Depressed: a pointed arch of four arcs, the two outer and lower arcs struck from centers on the springing line and the two inner and upper arcs from centers below the springing line. Sometimes the two upper arcs are replaced by straight lines; Ogee: a pointed arch of four or more arcs, the two uppermost or middle arcs being reversed; Skew: an arch not at right angles laterally with its jambs; Relieving: an arch, generally of rough constructions, placed in the wall above the true arch or head of an opening, to relieve it of its super incumbent weight; Stilted: an arch with its springing line raised above the level of the imposts.


A moulded enrichment of the jambs and head of a doorway or window opening; the lowest member of an entablature.

Arrow Loop

A narrow vertical slit cut into a wall, through which arrows can be fired from the inside.


Worked stone with a flat surface, usually regular in shape with square edges; expensive "dressing stone" used on outer surfaces of both religious and secular buildings.


External wall of a castle or circle of walls around a keep (1). The word eventually included the outer court of a castle, or any court within its walls.


Ribbon–like scrolls with inscriptions used extensively in the heraldic art (both tapestry and painting) which decorated the walls of medieval castles and manors.


Bench with tapestry coverings. See also Costers and Costerings.

Bar Tracery

Stone openwork pattern in the head of a window or screen made up of moulded bars forming geometrical figures, and the like.


Outwork defending the gate or entrance of a castle.


Battlement of a castle's outer fortification, with stables on the inside.


Overhanging battlemented corner turret. Common in both Scotland and France.


Projection from the main walls of a fortification, so designed that fire could be directed at both the foreground and the outerworks, as well as defense on the flanks, or adjacent bastions and curtain walls.


The outwardly sloping base of a wall caused by a thickening of the masonry.


A castle parapet with indentations or embrasure with raised portions (merlons) between.


A walled and fortified enclosure, attached to a tower–house.


The division of a building, as marked by a unit of roof-vaulting, etc.


A small round moulding.


Fighting tower; one of the earliest elements of a castle.


The flat and narrow piece of ground between a moat and castle wall, where these do not rise sheer from the water.

Blind Arcade

Decorative treatment of a wall, mostly Norman, by setting blank arches, supported by columns, against it.


From the French, bosse; lump or knot; projecting ornament used to conceal the intersection of ceiling and roof vaulting ribs, etc.


In roof construction, a subsidiary timber inserted to strengthen the framing of a truss. Windbrace: a subsidiary timber inserted between the purlins and principals of a roof to resist the pressure of the wind.


A beam forming the direct support of an upper wall or timber–framing.


Header: a brick wall laid so that the end only appears on the face of the wall. Stretcher: a brick laid so that one side only appears on the face of the wall.


Pit into which the heel of the drawbridge descends when the bridge itself is raised.


That part of baronial and royal households responsible for the procuring, proper storage, and distribution of the wine and ale consumed by the lord and his retainers, or King and his Court. The name derives from the butts in which most of it was stored. Also referred to the butler's room, where drinks were prepared.


A projection from the wall providing additional support. Angle–Buttress: two meeting, or nearly meeting, at an angle of 90 degrees at the corner; Diagonal Buttress: one placed against the right angle formed by two walls and more or less equi–angular with both; Flying Buttress: an arch or half–arch transmitting the thrust of a vault or roof from the upper part of a wall to the outer support or buttress.


Moulding carved in the form of a cable.


A beam curved so that the middle is higher than the ends.


Chamber; private bed–sitting room.


A projection or hood over a door, window, etc., and the covering over a tomb or niche.


The head, often decorated, of a pillar.


A vaulted chamber built as both a barrack and a buttery.


1) A wide hollow moulding in window jambs, etc. 2) The hinged part of a window.


The opening in a wall from which waste from garderobes can be collected.


A small room, usually a bedroom annex.


The surface left when a corner is cut across at an angle of 45 degrees.


Accounts department in major, non–royal households; generally assigned a room, or suite of rooms, within the castle or manor house and not mobile like the royal wardrobe.


Five–lobed tracery.


Windowed, upper story of a building, rising clear above the adjoining parts of the building.


Hard chalk material used in building.


Wall made of unburned clay mixed with straw.


Chest for storing personal belongings; 2) A strongbox in which money and jewels were secretly kept; 3) Treasury, e.g., financial resources personally controlled by the King, and kept with him.


Chest made of fir for the storage of books.


In a roof, a horizontal beam framed to and serving to tie a pair of rafters together some distance above the wall-plate level.


A bracket with a compound curved outline.


Stone or timber projection from the face of a wall intended to support the end of a beam, or to help support a platform.


Horizontal moulded projection crowning a building, especially the uppermost part of an entabulature; ornamental moulding at the top of a column or round a room where walls and ceiling meet or at the top of a fireplace.

Coursed Rubble

Wall in which the stones are very roughly dressed and level.


A concave under–surface of the nature of a hollow moulding, but on a larger scale.


Gap in a battlemented parapet.


To fortify.

Crest, Cresting

An ornamental finish along the top of a screen, etc.


An ornamental leaf–like projection on a gable or pinnacle.


Arrow–slit in the form of a cross.


Curved timbers supporting the ridge beam of a roof.


A chamber, usually underground, where relics are kept.

Cupboard Cloths

Cloths used to cover a piece of furniture resembling a sideboard.

Curtain (Wall)

Wall, generously freestanding and with interval or angle–towers, which encloses the castle courtyard.


Court or yard attached to a castle or dwelling–place.


A capital cut from a cube by having its lower angles rounded off to a circular shaft.


Point formed by the meeting of two foils or arcs in gothic tracery.


Low platform for a principal table in the great hall.


A mud made of clay mixture applied over wattle as a way of strengthen and seal it.

Diaper Work

Use of different colored bricks to achieve an overall pattern of repeated lozenges or squares; also used instonework and painting.

Dog–Tooth Ornament

A typical 13th–century ornament consisting of a series of pyramidal flowers of petals; used to cover hollow mouldings.


Main castle tower; the keep.


Bar securing the castle gate on the inside; could be drawn back into the porter of gateward’s lodge before opening the gate.


Hinged or pivoted bridge that could be raised against an approaching enemy.


The stones used about an angle, window, or other feature when worked to a finished face, whether smooth, tooled in various ways, moulded, or sculpted.


Large, round tower, usually low and squat.


The jail, usually held in one of the towers.


The underpart of a sloping roof overhanging a wall.


See also battlements.


Splayed opening in a fortified parapet wall to take a window or gun.


A fortified enclosure.


Horizontal member above a classic column, often used without the column. It consists of three parts: the upper projecting cornice; the frieze, which when it swells outwards is said to be pulvinated; and the lower member, the architrave, which may be used as a frame for a window, door, or fireplace openings.

Fan Vaulting

See vaulting.


A plain or moulded board covering the plate of a projecting upper story of timber, and masking the ends of the cantilever joists which support it.


Firm, cylindrical bundles of brushwood used to fill ditches and to construct defenses.


Windows of a building and their arrangement.


A carved ornament at the top of the pinnacle or gable.


Flint and dressed stone, contrasted with each other to make patterns.


Carved with leaf ornaments.


Block in front of a castle keep which formed a lobby or landing; it enclosed a covered stair and sometimes had a chapel on its upper story.


The vertical triangular portion of the end of a building from the level of the cornice to the edge on the roof.


Enriched with a series of convex ridges, the converse of fluting, and forming an ornamental edge or band.


A long passage or room.


Privy. Contrary to what might have been thought possible, even as early as the reign of Henry II, most larger castle chambers had both a fireplace and a garderobe. There were also records showing that often elaborate building and plumbing arrangements were made to accomodate bathing, especially in the royal residences, making life in a medieval castle not nearly as primitive as might be assumed. There were also multi–storied garderobe towers, to accommodate the rest of a castle's considerable population, good examples of which can be seen at both Ludlow and Middleham. Not until the 18th century did outdoor privies become the norm at every level of society. A multi–purpose word, garderobe seems to have first been used in reference to indoor privies in the 14th century. See jakes, privy, and stews.


A carved projecting figure pierced to carry off the rain water from the roof of a building.


Yard; open space by a building.

Gate House

The complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built for protection of each entrance of a castle or town.


In architecture, the style which grew to popularity (particularly in France) during the 12th–15th centuries. It was characterized by high pointed arches, flying buttresses, and rib vaulting. This allowed higher windows, and "Light" became an integral part of Gothic architecture, symbolizing God's presence and His love.

Great Chamber

Solar; owner's bed–sitting room; master bedroom.

Great Hall

The room in a castle where the main activities took place.

Groining, Groined Vault

See Vaulting.


Principal room in a house or castle. Open hall: room on the ground floor, open to the roof. Upper end: High Table end, furthest from the entrance. Lower end: adjacent to entrance and service rooms.


The common form of medieval construction in which walls were made of a wooden frame structure made of wattle and daub.


Arras; tapestries.


Hall beside a chamber in a large lower building, usually found in earlier castles such as Colchester, Corfe, Canterbury, Rising, and Middleham.


Horizontal brackets at the top of the wall, supporting the arched braces of a hammerbeam roof.


Garden; arbor.

High Table

Table, elevated on a dais at the end of the Hall opposite the entrances; reserved for the King or nobles, members of his family, and important guests. See Upper End under Hall.

Hipped Roof

A roof with sloped instead of vertical ends. Half–Hipped: a roof whose ends are partly vertical and partly sloped.

Hoards (Hourds)

Covered wooden galleries supported on brackets at the top of a castle wall to defend its base through openings in the gallery floor. Also called brattices.


Fireplace canopy of stone or timber and plaster which collected and conducted smoke to the flue.

Hood–Mould, Label, Drip–Stone

A projecting moulding on the face of a wall above an arch, doorway, or window; in some cases it follows the form of the arch, and in others is square in outline.

Inner Curtain

The high wall that surrounds the inner ward.

Inner Ward

Open space within the castle keep.

Interval Tower

One of the towers set along the length of the curtain wall.


Privy; latrine. More of a crudity than a garderobe, it was in all a commonly used term.


The side of an opening, doorway, window, or fireplace.


Projecting floor joists in a timber–framed building, supporting an overhang.


The method of cutting the adjoining faces of the voussoirs of an arch with rebated, zigzagged, or wavy surfaces to provide a better key.


Main tower of a castle.


The middle stone in an arch.


The middle vertical point of a roof–truss.


The stone at the foot of a gable.


Long narrow window with pointed top, characteristic of the 13th century.

Lierne Vault

See Vaulting.


Division of a traceried window, glazed or unglazed.

Linen–Fold Paneling

Panelling ornamented with conventional pre-presentation of folded linen.


Stone or wooden headpiece of doorway or window opening.


An arcade open at one side to catch the sun.

Long House

Building with long, rectangular living room(s) and the byre under one roof, sharing a common entrance.


A narrow slit, either admitting light to a basement or stair or, as in arrow–loop, designed for shooting.

Louver (Louvre)

Smoke turret; lantern–shaped structure on the roof over the central hearth having side openings through which the smoke escaped.


Gallery projecting on brackets outside castle towers or walls, with holes for the dropping of missiles, etc. See Meutiers.


A stop at the end of the hood-mould, bearing a distant resemblance to a human face; generally of the 12th and 13th centuries.


Solid portions of a castle's embattled parapet.


A dwelling–house with attached court or yard.


Small opening in a castle's defenses also known as murder-holes, built into an entrance passage, or forebuilding, of a castle for the purpose or raining missiles down on assailants.


A deep and wide trench around the rampart of a castle, usually filled with water.


A mixture of sand, water, and lime used to bind stones together permanently.


Artifical earth–mound constructed for castle keeps in the 11th and 12th centuries. The motte is about all that is left of Sandal Castle, but its proportions give ample evidence of the impressive fortress from which Richard, Duke of York, went forth to meet his death at Wakefield and which later became the first headquarters of his youngest son's Council of the North.


Earth–mound with wood or stone keep, surrounded by ditches and palisade enclosure, or courtyard.


The vertical bar between the lights of a window.

Muniment Room

That room in castle or monastery where important documents were stored.


The intermediate upright in the framing of a door, screen, or panel, butting into or stopped by the rails.

Murder Holes

See Meutiers.


The narrow moulding around the bottom of a capital.

Newel Stair

A circular staircase winding around the newel, or central pillar.


A projecting upper window, supported on corbels.

Outer Curtain

The wall that encloses the outer ward.

Outer Ward

The area around the outside of and adjacent to the inner curtain.


A sturdy wooden fence usually built to enclose an area until a permanent stone wall can be built.


A service room where dry goods, including bread, are stored.


A wall rampart, or elevation of earth or stone to protect soldiers.


A covered way or gallery.


A pillar supporting an arch.


A shallow pier attached to a wall.


A vertical support for a superstructure.


A vertical support usually ending in a small spire and used especially in Gothic construction to give additional weight to a buttress or an angle pier.


A projecting base of a wall or column, often chamfered or with decorative mouldings; Dressed Plinth: a stone plinth with prepared shape and surface.


A door or entrance, especially one that is large and imposing.


A heavy timber grating designed to close off an entrance passage, sliding vertically in grooves cut on either side to receive it.


The side or lesser gate of a castle.


A horizontal timber resting on the principal rafters of a roof–truss, and forming an intermediate support for the common rafters.

Putlog Hole

A hole left in the surface of a wall for insertion of a horizontal pole.

Quadripartite Vault

See Vaulting.


In glazing, small panes of glass, generally diamond–shaped or square, set diagonally.


Four–lobed tracery.


A pair of vertical posts in a roof–truss, equidistant from the middle line.


The dressed stones at the edge of a building.


A broad embankment or mound of earth raised as a fortification about a castle.


The arch on the inside of a wall spanning a doorway or window opening.


The space between a rear-arch and the outer stone work of a window.


The half–pillar or pier at the end of an arcade or abutting a single arch.

Ribbed Vault

See Vaulting.


A defensive bank and ditch, circular or oval in plan, surrounding a hall or other buildings.


A continuous convex moulding cut upon the edges of stone woodwork, etc.


In architecture, a medieval style preceding Gothic, characterized by thick walls and heavy, wide vaulting.


Walling of rough unsquared stones or flints.


Postern used for making violent sorties from a castle under siege.


The temporary wooden frame work built next to a wall for support of workers and their materials.

Scalloped Capital

A development of the cushion-capital, in which the single cushion is elaborated into a series of truncated cones.


An artificial cutting away of the ground to form a steeper slope.


Wooden partitions at the tower or kitchen end of a hall; between the screens and the kitchen, buttery and pantry lay the screens passage.

Screens Passage

The entrance passage, crossing the lower end of the hall, between the service doors and the hall screen.


A single arc forming half of a circle from the springing line.

Service Rooms

The Buttery (where drink was kept) and Pantry (for dry goods, including bread) were often found at the low end of the hall, either side of the passage to the kitchen.

Sexpartite Vault

See Vaulting.


Part of a column between base and capital; often one of a group of two or more clustered columns of lesser diameter; small or subordinate pillar.

Shafted Jamb

A jamb containing one or more shafts, either engaged or detached.


A tower made by circling the top of a castle mound with a stone curtain wall.

Shouldered Arch

A lintel on corbels, which are concave on the other side.


The under–side of a staircase, lintel, cornice, arch, canopy, etc.

Soffit Cusps

Cusps springing from the flat soffit of an arched head, and not from its chamfered sides or edges.


A private chamber, reserved for the lord and his family, at the dais end of the hall.


Triangular area above the haunch of an arch; space between the shoulder of an arch and the surrounding mouldings.


An arch formed by piers supporting a tie–beam at the service end of a timber–framed hall.


Cross–wall on or close to the center–line of a building.


A steeply tapering roof on top of a tower or towerlike structure; Broach–Spire: rises from the sides of the tower without a parapet; Needle–Spire: small and narrow, rising from the middle of the tower–roof well within the parapet.


Diagonally cut–away surround of a window or doorway, in which the opening widens towards the face of the wall, thereby admitting more light and increasing the angle of view for observation or shooting through.

Springing Line

Level at which an arch or vault rises from its supports.

Stages of Towers

The divisions marked by horizontal string-courses externally.

Stanchion, Stancheon

The upright iron bars in a screen, window,etc.


See privy.


Projecting stones at the end of the labels, string-courses, etc. against the mouldings finish; they are often in various forms, such as shields, bunches of foliage, human or grotesque heads, etc.; a finish at the end of any moulding or chamfer, bringing the corner out to a square edge, or sometimes, in the case of a moulding, to a chamfered edge. A splayed stop has a plain sloping face, but in many other cases the face is moulded.

Strainer Arch

An arch between two piers, inserted to relieve pressure and prevent bulging.

String Course

Moulding or projecting band running horizontally across the facade of a building or around its walls.


A timber forming a sloping support to a beam, etc.


The vertical members of a frame into which are tenoned the ends of the rails or horizontal pieces.


The horizontal transverse beam in a roof, tying together the feet of the rafters to counteract the thrust.


Decorative branching stonework in the upper story of a window.


Horizontal bar of wood or stone dividing a window or across the top of a doorway.


Three–lobed tracery.


A number of timbers framed together to bridge a space or form a bracket, to be self–supporting, and to carry other timbers. The trusses of a roof are generally named after a peculiar feature in their construction, such as king-post, queen-post, hammer-beam, etc.


A little tower; an ornamental structure at one of the angles of a larger structure.


An enclosed space within an arch, doorway, etc.


An arched ceiling or roof of stone or brick,sometimes imitated in wood or plaster; Barrel–Vaulting: (sometimes called WagonHead Vaulting) is a continuous vault in its length by cross–vaults. A Groined Vault (or Cross–Vaulting) results from the intersection of simple vaulting, surfaces. A Ribbed Vault is a framework of arched ribs carrying the cells which cover the spaces between them. One bay of vaulting, divided into four parts or compartments, is termed quadripartite; but often the bay is divided longitudinally into two subsidiary bays, each equaling a bay of the wall–supports; the vaulting bay is thus divided into six compartments, and its termed sexpartite. A more complicated form is Lierne Vaulting. This contains secondary ribs, which do not spring from the wall supports, but cross from main rib to main rib. In Fan–Vaulting, numerous ribs from the springing in equal curves, diverging equally in all directions, giving fan–like effects when seen from below.


Spiral staircase.


A spiral form of ornament.


The stone forming an arch.

Wagon–Head Vault

See Vaulting.


A timber laid lengthwise on the wall to receive the ends of the rafters and joists.


The passage or fighting platform behind the parapet of a tower or curtain wall.


The court or bailey of a castle.


A room or closet where clothes are kept or stored.


A mat of woven sticks and reeds.


A compound mould formed by a convex curve between the concave curves.


Horizontal boards nailed to the uprights of timber–framed buildings and made to overlap; the boards are wedge–shaped in section, the upper edge being the thinner.


A sloping surfaces for casting off water, etc.

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