Description of the Machicolations
The Machicolations are projecting parapets or platforms situated at the top of a castle wall. Machicolations were developed from wooden hoardings which were designed to hang over and past castle walls. The wooden hoardings were included into the design of stone castle battlements. The Machicolations had holes in the floor for dropping various missiles on the enemy. There were two types of Machicolations - one which ran along the whole wall and others which were built in only parts of the wall - similar to a balcony. The holes in the Machicolations gained the popular name of ' Murder Holes' also called Meutrieres.

Purpose of the Machicolations
The purpose of the full Machicolations was to provide clear access across the top of the battlements - troops could follow the attack point of the enemy.



  • What was the Origin, Meaning or Definition of a Castle’s Machicolations?
  • Description of a castle Machicolations
  • What is the purpose of Machicolations?
  • Did Machicolations help Castle defenses?
  • How was the Machicolations attacked?

Origin, Meaning of the word ‘Machicolations’
The Origin and Meaning of the word ‘Machicolations’ derives from the Middle French word ‘macher’ meaning to crush. Heavy stones were some of the first missiles to be dropped from the murder holes in the machicolations.

Missiles dropped from Machicolations
The Missiles dropped from the ‘Murder Holes’ in the Machicolations included heavy stones, hot sand, molten lead, boiling water and boiling tar or pitch. During siege warfare any rotting materials such as dung or dead bodies would also be dropped from the murder holes in the machicolations.

The Machicolations were introduced with Norman and Plantagenet castles during the Medieval period 1066 - 1485. Facts and information about the many different parts of Castles! The Machicolations was an essential Castle part for as a form of defence against intruders.


Parts of a Castle

  • What were the purpose of the different parts of the Medieval Castle?
  • What was the difference between the parts of a castle called the Garderobe and the Wardrobe?
  • Identifying parts of a castle - Description, purpose and function of the Moat, Dungeon and Portcullis
  • Description, purpose and function of the Barbican, Gatehouse, Crenellations and Drawbridge
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