Return to the Castillo
Vocabulary for the Castillo,
Fort Matanzas and other
Spanish Defenses
around St. Augustine
abatis -  Barricade of felled trees with their branches towards the attack and sharpened (primitive version of "barbed

Anastasia Island - called by the Spanish La Cantera, La Escolta and finally Santa Anastasia

apron -  A piece of sheet lead used to cover the vent of a cannon to protect against the elements. This was later
replaced by the vent cover.

argamasa – waterproof lime plaster.

argamasar - to make mortar; to cement with mortar.

armorer - One who was charged with the manufacture, repair, or preservation of weapons.

armory - a military location used for the storage of arms and ammunition.

arquebus - Portable firearm invented about 1450, having  matchlock operated by a trigger.

arroba - A Spanish weight of twenty-five pounds.

barbero - barber

barbette -  1. A protected platform from which cannon fire over a parapet. 2. A barbette is a protective circular
armour feature around a cannon or heavy artillery gun. (water battery)

bartizan, gurite or echaugette - A projecting cylindrical form, usually located high up on the corner of a fortified
structure, which served as a lookout or watchtower.

bastion --the pointed, projecting corner of a fort which allows for crossfire and for visibility along the walls. The
names for the Castillo bastions are: San Agustin, San Carlos, San Pablo and San Pedro.

battery - : A section of guns, a named part of the main fortifications or a separate outer works position (e.g.. North
Battery, Water Battery).

battlement - a wall or parapet placed on the top of a fort with open places for shooting cannons.

biscocho - hardtack.

boticario - apothecary

botijuelas - small earthen jars.

breastwork. A defensive work of moderate height, hastily thrown up.

bomb - A shell, or hollow iron ball filled with explosive and fired from a gun. Its detonation was timed by a powder fuse.

bombproof - a room built to resist destruction by bombardment

bonnet - a cap - or v-shaped work, raised in front of a fortification salient to shield it from frontal fire

caballero - A cavalier, i. e., a raised platform inside a fort, giving the defender's cannons the advantage of elevation
over attacking forces.

cal - Lime; lime mortar, plaster; tabby. In Florida lime was calcined from shells, usually oyster shells from Indian
middens. mortar and squared stone, quicklime - c. y canto (1764/1)

cantera - quarry.

canteria - Art of cutting stone; building made of squared stone; unit of squared stone.

canto - Quarry stone: block (1764/1) see cal.

capellan de la fuerza - fort's chaplain.

capitan de armas - captain of the arms.

carretas - long, narrow, hauling wagons.

carretones - large carts (bigger than a carretas.)

casa fuerte - fortified house

casemate --a vaulted room.  A chamber, bomb proofed vault, built within the walls of a fort.

cascabel - a projection beyond the breech on a muzzle-loading cannon.

castellation - battlement.

cedula - an ordinance.

cimisos - proceeds from the sale of confiscated prohibited goods.

circumvallation - a line of field works.

cirujano - surgeon

cistern -- a reservoir or tank for holding rain water as a source for drinking water.

coping - the highest or covering course of a wall.

coquina – fossilized crushed shell stone.

coquina chippings - The detritus that results from cutting coquina into blocks. The spalls were used as aggregate in
some types of masonry, or as fillers and spacers. The finer chippings, being quite "sharp," compacted efficiently and
were sometimes used as pavement, as tabby floor or pavement, and as "dry" patching for pavement.

coquina shell or gravel - The unconsolidated mixture of sand and shell found between the strata of coquina. It was
sometimes used in the making of tabby.

cordon - the ornamental projecting course of stone where the parapet wall joins the scarp.

counterguard - a detached, narrow rampart placed in front of an important wall to prevent fire from breaching it.

counterscarp - The outer slope or wall of a ditch or moat in a fortification.

covered way - area between the moat and the exterior embankment (glacis) covered from enemy fire by this

crenel - One of the embrasures alternating with merlons in a parapet.

crenellation --an opening in a parapet through which a cannon might be fired.

Cuirassier - A soldier of a certain type of heavy cavalry.

culverin - A gun (cannon) used for precision shooting.

curtain wall --the expanse of wall between two corners of a fortress. The curtains of the Castillo
are about thirty feet high.

dedo - a finger a small part 1/48 of a vara castellana

demiculverin - a medium type of cannon larger than a saker but smaller than a culverin.

demilunes - fortifications an outwork in front of a fort, shaped like a crescent moon.

enceinte - Line of Circumvallation - the wall around the town

El Penon -  today's Summer Haven

embrasure - an opening in a wall or parapet, through which cannon are fired

en barbette - artillery positioned to fire over a parapet rather than through an embrasure in the parapet

enfilade - to rake the length of a target with gunfire.

epaulement - (Retaining Wall) An elevation constructed in order to protect troops and batteries from direct fire of the
enemy. Usually composed of gabions filled with earth, or sandbags. In permanent fortifications, considered to be the
low stone wall constructed at the top of the rampart.

escalade - The act of climbing the walls of a fortification by ladders.

escarpment - Inner wall of ditch. (Scarp)

echaugette -  A small chamber or place of protection for a sentinel, usually in the form of a projecting turret, or the

escribano publico y de gobernacion - public and governmental notary

extrados - the exterior curve of an arch.

falcon - a large gun (cannon), named for the fierce falcon hawk.

falconet - a small cannon.

fanegas - a dry measure of 2.57 bushels.

field of fire - area in front of an earthwork that can be covered by weapons

firing step - (banquette) the raised step or bank along the inside of a parapet.

flankers - The corners or bastions of Fort Mose

flota - a fleet of merchang ships.

galliot - small, swift galley, using both sails and oars. It was a half galley. Instrumental to the defense of the Castillo in

galley - a large one-deck vessel.

garita --Spanish word for sentry box, a place where the guard could come in out of the weather.

gate - entrance - sallyport

glacis --the sloping hill around a fort which protects the base from cannon fire. Visitors walk up
and through the glacis to enter the Castillo.

gorge - the throat or entrance into a bastion

gunner's ladle - A cooper scoop fixed to a pole and used for measuring powder and loading it into a cannon.

half-annates - (Annates-In ecclesiastic law the first fruits of a benefice.)

handspike - a metal bar or pipe that is used for prying or leverage.

hornwork - an earthwork having a curtain and two half-bastions. Its plan somewhat resembles the projecting horns of
a bull. Hornwork is from the Dutch Hornwerk an outwork resembling a pair of horns whose configuration consists of a
curtain wall with a demi-bastion on each side

hospitalero - hospital steward.

jarras de barro - clay jars.

Juanta de Guerra de las Indias - Board of War of the Indies.

keystone - A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry vault or arch, which is the final
piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch to bear weight.

kilns - Heating limestone to make quicklime or calcium oxide

La Nea - early name for the Matanzas watchtower.

latrine was connected to the bay through a pipe that allowed tidal water to flush the toilets.

loophole --a small, narrow opening in the wall of a fort through which to shoot.

lunette - A fieldwork consisting of two faces, forming a salient angle and two parallel flanks.

mandador de los esclavos - master of the slaves

magazine --a storage place for gunpowder. For years, the old magazine at the Castillo was falsely
called the "dungeon". The magazine at Fort Matanzas in inside the west wall and is
accessible only from the officer's quarters.

maestro mayor de herreria - master blacksmith

Macaris creek - Robinson Creek running beside the second Fort Mose.

match - A wick or cord chemically prepared to burn at uniform rate, for firing a charge of powder.

merlon - The solid part of a battlement or parapet, between two openings.

moat --a ditch around a fort or castle. The Castillo had a dry moat. It was a way to sink the fort
into the ground behind the glacis so that not much wall would be visible and thus it would be
better protected from cannon fire.

mortar – lime (made from burnt oyster shells) mixed with sand and water.(argamasar)

mortar - Short cannon used for firing shells at a high angle, as lobbing them over the walls of a fort into the courtyard.

musket - The smooth-bore predecessor of the rifle. Invented about 1540, it was more powerful than the arquebus,
which it superseded.

muster - To call (troops) together, as for inspection.

pale - a pointed stake. Pales were set vertically into the ground or fastened to rails as fencing.

palisade - A high fence or barricade of pole timbers set vertically into the ground in a close row as a means of

parade - Level area of interior of a fort

parade wall - the enterior wall of a rampart which surrounds the parade area.

parapet --the wall around the roof of a fort.

parget - to apply waterproofing plaster.

pedrero - mortar

pedrero - a large mortar

peones - laborers.

peruleras - narrow-bottomed and strait -mouthed and flask-shaped containers.

pilaster - rectangular column with base and captial, inserted into a wall, but projecting outward about a quarter of its

piragua - A canoe made of a hollowed tree trunk.

pirogue - a canoe-like boat.

Plaza de Armas -The central open area inside the fort walls.

portcullis - a sliding iron grating gate into castillo. Could be raised or lowered. (The Ponce de Leon Hotel would also
have one.)

postern - a small rear gate.

presidio - A fortified settlement.

quoin - A wedge to fix the elevation of a gun.

rammer - A pole having a wooden head for ramming home the projectile or the charge of a cannon.

rampart - The main body of a fortification around a place, on which the parapet is raised. main curtain wall. A broad
embankment of earth which surrounded a fortified place. In forts or fortresses considered to be the entire top of the
fortification , and contained the epaulment to protect the defenders. In many fortification, dirt ramps were constructed
from the parade to the top of the rampart for weapons and troop access.

Rancho de Santa Barbara - artillery magazine.

ravelin --a V-shaped outwork. The Castillo's ravelin, directly in front of the door, protected the door
from cannon fire and also guarded the drawbridges.

redoubt --a fortified projection in a wall. The defensive walls of St. Augustine, like the Cubo Line,
had redoubts with cannon placed at intervals along them.

Reformado - A soldier who has ceased serving in a regular infantry grade or in temporary assignment.

residencia - The judical review of a governor's administration.

Royal Palmetto - Spanish Bayonet

saker - A large gun (cannon), named for the saker hawk.

salient - an outwardly projecting part of a fortification.

sally port, located in the south curtain of the fort, is the only way in or out of the Castillo.  A gate (or Postern) through
which soldiers could "sally forth" to counterattack. In larger forts may be a tunnel through the walls and earthworks.

sap trench - (Governor Moore, 1703)  trench dug by the besieger to get close to the enemy's line

scarp - front slope of the rampart or main wall of the fort.

sconcheon - the part of a jamb between the doorframe and the inner wall.

situado - Troop pay funds.

sobrestantes - construction superintendent

sponge - brush or swab affixed to a pole and used for cleaning the bore of the cannon after discharge.

shot furnace - A furnace for heating solid cannon shot prior to firing at ships. The hot shot would set fire to the
rigging, sails and wooden decks all susceptible to fire

scupper --a drain hole. Rain water ran off the observation deck at Fort Matanzas through a scupper,
into a pipe, and thus into the water cistern located below the gun deck. There are also scuppers
all along the upper deck of the Castillo.

solera - a hurter to stop the gun when it was pushed into battery.

spanish bayonet -  has an erect trunk, 3-5 in (7.6-12.7 cm) in diameter, reaching up to 5-20 ft (1.5-6.1 m) tall before
it becomes top heavy and topples over. When that happens, the tip turns upward and keeps on growing. The trunk is
armed with sharp pointed straplike leaves each about 2 ft (0.6 m) long.

tabby – lime mortar with crushed oyster shells.

taja serrado - a wooden v-shaped piece which turned upside down serves as a touch hole cover.

terreplein - horizontal surface in rear of the parapet which guns may be mounted.

tranca - a horizontal locking bar.

traverse - barrier across part of a defensive area to give protection from enfilade fire. Parts of parapets, which
crossed the breadth of the covered way, at the salient and re-entering places of arms.

trench or ditch - The dry moat around Fort Mose.

trunnion - is a cylindrical protrusion used as a mounting and/or pivoting point. In a cannon, the trunnions are two
projections cast just forward of the centre of mass of the cannon and fixed to a two-wheeled movable gun carriage

vara - a measure of length, about thirty-three inches.

vault - is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof.[1] The parts of a
vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance.

vista - an inspection.

water battery - A section of guns outer works position near the water.

wormer - A double screw on the end of a pole, used for extracting the wad or cartridge from a muzzle-loading gun.
1 Castillo Drive, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, FL -
Library of Congress
Fort Matanzas from the water
One of the eschaugettes of Castillo de San Marcos. You
can also see the embrasures for the cannon
Spanish Galley
St. Augustine's Hornwork about Mission Avenue.
Spanish Bayonet
Castillo Hot Shot Furnace
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