Description of the Battlements
The Battlements are the most distinguishing feature of a castle - clearly indicating that the castle was built to withstand a battle. A Battlement was a rampart built around the top of a castle with regular gaps for firing arrows. The Battlements was situated on the top of castle towers and walls. The Battlements composed of:
- 'Crenels' (The gap, or open space, measuring 2-3 feet wide, between two Merlons in a battlement or crenellated wall. Crenels - a derivative of the correct name for the Battlements - the Crenellations)
- 'Merlons' (The solid portion between two Crenels in a battlement measuring 4 - 5 feet wide and 3 - 7 feet high)
Purpose of the Battlements
The purpose of the Battlements was to provide a fighting platform and good vantage point from which soldiers launched arrows. The Battlements also provided defenders with a solid defence to hide behind when they were not launching arrows from the gaps in between the stone battlements. The gaps in the Battlements ( the crenels) would also have temporary wooden shutters offering additional protection during siege warfare. Attackers would scale the castle wall and scaling ladders had hooks designed to fit over the crenels on the battlements.
Origin, Meaning of the word 'Battlements'
The Origin and Meaning of the word 'Battlements' derives from Old French word 'batillement' or 'bastille', meaning tower or turret.
Introduction of the Battlements - Norman Castles
The Battlements were introduced with Norman Castles during the Medieval period 1066 - 1154
Battlements - Part of a Norman Castle
The Normans introduced the wooden Motte and Bailey Castle to England following their victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Norman timber Motte and Bailey Castleswere quickly replaced by permanent stone Norman Castles. The Battlements feature in the Castlesbuilt by the Normans and this feature continued in the later Medieval Castles.