Castles are popular as tourist attractions, and people love to explore their beautiful and picturesque architecture. Earlier, they were the sign of power and wealth and were built to defend against enemies. There are thousands of castle sites globally, and each of them has a fascinating history and different structures. But some of the castles that were involved in wars might include some common defensive castle parts. This blog is dedicated to Castle Ramparts, a kind of castle part used to solve the castle’s defensive purposes.
Castle Ramparts are the defensive bank or walls of rubble, stone, or earth, usually encircling the structure to protect it from enemy attacks and allow defenders to fire weapons at them. The word ‘Rampart’ is derived from the French word ‘Remparer’ which means ‘to fortify’. Ramparts got their name because they protected the castles against attacks.
Purpose of Castle Ramparts
Castle Ramparts are the top of a defensive structure or wall forming boundaries around the castle, settlement, or hillfort. Their purpose was to provide protection to the defenders while they attacked their enemies using fire, arrows, stones, and other weapons. They were the protective barriers, broad embankments raised as an outer foundation of the castle, or the wall-like ridge designed using earth or earth and stones.
History of Castle Ramparts
Castle Ramparts are one of the oldest and most important defensive parts of the castle. Their history is very old and was seen in Hillforts of Iron and Bronze Ages and Forts of Roman. Later, they became an influential feature of Norman Motte and Bailey Castles, built by Normans and had medieval designs.
During prehistory and the early middle ages, the earth ramparts were used with external ditches to fulfil the outer defence perimeters of the castle. They used to make a perfect combination with Castle Barbican and Castle Turrets. Even some castles used to add palisades to raise the height of ramparts.
The first Ramparts were known as dump ramparts and were mounds of stones. Even though they used to solve the purpose, they were not very strong. Finally, years later, castles started replacing them with Vitrified ramparts, which were designed with stone, fought amazingly from heat, and were way stronger.
Later, the medieval castles advanced, and kings and castle owners started using ramparts with parapets. It provided a better defensive wall to the castles and allowed castle defenders to fire their weapons easily to the enemies while protecting themselves.
Types of Castle Ramparts
Castle Ramparts vary in their composition and design. Some mostly seen Ramparts in medieval castles are:
- Dump Ramparts: The simple Ramparts designed using stone and mounded to the castle wall are Dump Ramparts.
- Box Ramparts or Timberlaced Ramparts: The Ramparts that are more complex, have a box-like design, and are designed using timber or stone are Box or Timberlaced Ramparts.
- Vitrified Ramparts: The Ramparts designed using stones utilised for firing and adding more strength to the defence system are Vitrified Ramparts.
The most common type of Castle Ramparts seen in Central Europe castles was composed of earth, stone, and timber, forming a post-slot wall.
Elements of Castle Ramparts in Medieval Castle
- Parapet: A parapet is a low wall present on the top of Ramparts to provide shelter to the defenders.
- Wallwalk: Wallwalk is a pathway behind the parapet and at the top of Ramparts used as a fighting platform and communicating with defenders present on other fortification parts.
- Brattice: Brattice is a timber gallery on the top of Ramparts and on the front side of the parapet to provide a better view and attacking space to the defenders.
- Machicolation: Machicolation is a hanging projection in the front of the castle with an opening for throwing missiles and hot liquids on attackers.
- Crenellation: A crenellation is a rectangular gap present at defined intervals in a parapet to easily attack the enemies while keeping defenders safe.
- Arrowslit or Loophole: Arrowslit or loophole is the narrow openings in Ramparts that allow defenders to shoot enemies while not exposing themselves.
Later, during the 16th and 19th centuries, more elements, like exterior slope, interior slope, banquette, embrasure, terreplein, traverse, casemate, and bartizan, were added to the castle ramparts because the weapons and attacking system was upgraded with time.
Famous castles with Castle Ramparts
Some castles still have Ramparts standing in the best position and allow visitors to check out their composition and structure in reality. Here is a list of famous castles with Castle Rampart:
- Warwick Castle, UK
- Beeston Castle, England
- Cité de Carcassonne, France
- Ravenscraig Castle, Scotland
- Berwick-upon-Tweed Castle and Ramparts, England
In Early Modern times, castle technology evolved greatly, but the Castle Ramparts continued to be a part of the defence system. They upgraded with time; now, they have become a decorative element of the castle’s structure. You can find and visit many castles with ramparts globally and share your view about this castle part.
If you liked this article, read about Castle Barbican, Castle Machicolations, and Castle Turrets.