Please note that the TimeRef website is currently being redesigned.
The French term enceite refers to the combination of towers and connecting walls that surround the inner part of a fortified location. This could be a castle, a fortified
town or any other location that needs to be propected.
Battlements, Merlons, Embrasures and Crenels
The term battlements refer to the top of a fortified construction, whether that is the curtain wall, a tower or the keep for example. The typical shape of the battlements
consisting of sections of stone with gaps inbetween is known as crenelations.
The sections of wall are known as merlons and the gaps are known as either embrasures or crenels. The purpose of the design was to protect the defenders from arrows and other missiles fired by enemies.
In the later medieval period castle owners had to seek permission from the king to fortify buildings and add battlements. The term used for this permission was 'licence to crenelate'.
A development that gave more protection to the defenders on the battlements was the introduction of arrow loops. These were slots through which archers could fire their arrows without having to stand in the gaps of the battlements. The arrow loops were wider on the inside than the outside and were angled downwards so that the archers could fire down at the attackers on the ground.
The allure is the section of the battlements behind the crenelations. This is where the defenders stood and fired arrows from. Access to the allure was either by ladders or stone stairs. To improve the defence of the castle the stairs were normally restricted to the towers so if attackers managed to capture a the wall they could not get down unless they also captured a tower.
Not all walk walks were constructed in stone as part of the wall. Wooden beams were inserted into the
walls and planks of wood placed on top.
Explore a virtual siege
Explore a landscape showing different kinds of siege engine, including the trebuchet, siege tower and battering ram.