Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future


A Glossary of Castle Terms

Aumbry

Aumbry

A simple opening in a masonry wall forming a cupboard. The term would appear to come from 'Almery', literally, 'a place for the alms' i.e. a cupboard by the side of an altar. Almonry - The room where alms were distributed. Aumbries are quite common in Scotland. This illustration is from one in Stoneypath Tower, East Lothian.


Bartizan

Bartizan

A bartizan is a corbelled-out turret, round or square, at the top angle of a castle. This open bartizan at Bermesyde Castle in the Borders, has cable moulding round the top. Bartizans are a common feature on Scottish Castles and Tower Houses, and can be seen at Balcaldine, Balgonie, Ballencrieff and Balvaird to name but a few.


barmkin

Barmkin

A Barmkin is a protective wall around a castle, originally for holding livestock.


Corbel

Corbel

A carved stone projecting from the face of a wall and supporting a superincumbent weight, usually a beam, or parapet wall, supported on a corbel-table, at the top of a castle. Corbelling usually features in just about every castle and tower house.


Crow Steps

Crow Steps

Crow Steps or corbie steps are the dressed stone steps that run up the side of a gable.


Dormer

Dormer

A window pierced through a sloping roof, usually the window of the sleeping apartments, hence the name Dormer. The triangular stone gable above the window is the pediment, which is usually topped with a carved stone finial, a thistle or an animal for example.


Escutcheon

Escutcheon

An escutcheon, or scutcheon, is the plate which surrounds the keyhole of a castle. Originally an escutcheon referred to a shield charged with armorial bearing, and used in Gothic architecture as ornaments to perpetuate the memory of benefactors.


Finial

Finial

From the Latin 'finis' meaning the end. A finial is the ornamental topping to a turret or a dormer pediment. It can be a carved piece of wood, covered in lead as shown here, or a carved stone top to a dormer or roof ridge. Finials are also found on wrought iron gates.




Added: 18 Sep 2010 Updated: 13 Nov 2014
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