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A curtain wall is a
defensive wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Lat ...

defensive wall
between two
fortified tower A fortified tower (also defensive tower or castle tower or, in context, just tower) is one of the defensive structures used in fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in wa ...
s or
bastion A bastion or bulwark is a structure projecting outward from the Curtain wall (fortification), curtain wall of a fortification, most commonly angular in shape and positioned at the corners of the fort. The fully developed bastion consists of two f ...

bastion
s of a
castle A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Military order (monastic society), military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but u ...

castle
,
fortress A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, gov ...

fortress
, or town.


Ancient fortifications

Evidence for curtain walls or a series of walls surrounding a town or fortress can be found in the historical sources from Assyria and Egypt. Some notable examples are ancient
Tel Lachish
Tel Lachish
in Israel and
Buhen Buhen ( grc, Βοὥν ''Bohón'') was an ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of go ...

Buhen
in Egypt. Curtain walls were built across Europe during the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
; the early 5th century
Theodosian Walls The Walls of Constantinople are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople la, Constantinopolis , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklag ...
of
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
influenced the builders of medieval castles many centuries later.


Curtain wall castles

In medieval castles, the area surrounded by a curtain wall, with or without towers, is known as the bailey. The outermost walls with their integrated bastions and wall towers together make up the
enceinte Enceinte (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...

enceinte
or main defensive line enclosing the site. In medieval designs of castle and town, the curtain walls were often built to a considerable height and were fronted by a
ditch 150px, Waterplants growing in a ditch in the Netherlands, showing ''Sagittaria sagittifolia'' to the right. A ditch is a small to moderate divot created to channel water. A ditch can be used for drainage, to drain water from low-lying areas, alo ...
or
moat A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that is dug and surrounds a castle A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Mili ...

moat
to make assault difficult. Walls were topped with
battlements A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of s or s, comprises a (i.e., a defensive low wall between chest-height and head-height), in which gaps or indentations, which are often rectangular, occur at intervals to allow for the l ...
which consisted of a
parapet A parapet is a barrier that is an extension of the wall at the edge of a roof A roof is the top covering of a , including all materials and constructions necessary to support it on the walls of the building or on uprights, providing protecti ...
, which was generally crenellated with
merlon A merlon is the solid upright section of a battlement A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for t ...
s to protect the defenders and lower crenels or
embrasure An embrasure is the opening in a battlement A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as ...
s which allowed them to shoot from behind cover; merlons were sometimes pierced by loopholes or
arrowslit. This shows the inside - where the archer would have stood. An arrowslit (often also referred to as an arrow loop, loophole or loop hole, and sometimes a balistraria) is a narrow vertical aperture in a fortification through which an archer can lau ...
s for better protection. Behind the parapet was a
wall walk File:ChemindeRonde.JPG, 220px, The ''chemin de ronde'' of the Yedikule Fortress, Istanbul, Turkey. A ''chemin de ronde'' (French language, French, "round path"' or "patrol path"; ), also called an allure, alure or, more prosaically, a wall-walk, is ...
from which the defenders could fight or move from one part of the castle to another. Larger curtain walls were provided with mural passages or galleries built into the thickness of the walls and provided with arrowslits. If an enemy reached the foot of the wall, they became difficult to see or shoot at directly, so some walls were fitted with a projecting wooden platform called a
hoarding Hoarding is a behavior where people or animals accumulate food or other items. Animal behavior ''Hoarding'' and ''caching'' are common in many bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all spec ...
or brattice. Stone
machicolation A machicolation (french: mâchicoulis) is a floor opening between the supporting corbel In architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan ...
s performed a similar function.Hull 2006, pp. 66-67


Early modern fortifications

The introduction of gunpowder made tall castle walls vulnerable to fire from heavy
cannon A cannon is a large-caliber A 45 ACP hollowpoint (Federal Cartridge, Federal HST) with two .22 Long Rifle, 22 LR cartridges for comparison In gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launc ...

cannon
, which prompted the ''
trace italienne Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) was a NASA heliophysics and solar observatory designed to investigate the connections between fine-scale magnetic fields and the associated plasma structures on the Sun by providing high resolutio ...
'' style from the 16th century. In these fortifications, the height of the curtain walls was reduced, and beyond the ditch, additional
outwork An outwork is a minor fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin ...
s such as
ravelin A ravelin is a triangular fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived fro ...
s and
tenaille St. Andrew's Tenaille in Valletta A tenaille (archaic tenalia) is an advanced defensive-work, in front of the main defences of a fortress A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in wa ...

tenaille
s were added to protect the curtain walls from direct cannonading.


See also

*
Bawn A bawn is the defensive wall surrounding an Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent ...
*
Enceinte Enceinte (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...

Enceinte
*
Rampart rampART was a squatting, squatted social centre in the Whitechapel area of east London. It was established in a derelict building in Rampart Street which was previously used as an Islamic school for girls. The centre operated as a private club, pr ...


Notes


References

* * * * * Castle architecture Types of wall
Fortification (architectural elements) A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, w ...
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