An Introduction to Artillery Fortification

In the last few decades there has been increasing acceptance that post-medieval fortifications have equal importance as,


for example,medieval castles. As such they should be studied and preserved where possible to gain a better understanding of our past. Fortification in the age of gunpowder is the more recent chapter in the history of defensive structures, and naturally follows on from the Iron Age hill forts, Roman forts and medieval castles.

The design of any fortification should always be influenced by the expected methods of attack while also maximising the potential of the methods available for defence. As gunpowder artillery developed, the design of fortifications changed to meet the new requirements. Along the way there have been periods of gradual change, but also times when the accepted way of doing things has been suddenly overturned.  

Walls and Towers

Gunpowder began to be used as the energy source in projectile weapons in the early 14thcentury. Early cannon were cumbersome, not very powerful, and almost as dangerous to their users as to those on the receiving end. The first way in which they affected the form of fortifications was the adaptation of arrow loops to allow the use of hand guns. This was normally achieved by the addition of a circular port at the bottom of the slit. Many castles were uprated by the introduction of various shapes of gun loops and gun ports. However these were often largely designed to impress, rather than be of practical use.

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Author: Simon Barras

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Keywords: Artillery,Fortifications,Military Architecture


Simon Barras

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