One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(in medieval fortifications) an opening between the supporting corbels of a projecting parapet or the vault of a gate, through which stones or burning objects could be dropped on attackers.
- ‘Built between 1432 and 1448 by Ralph, Lord Cromwell, High Treasurer of the Realm, certain features, such as the machicolations below the battlements, may derive from Continental precedents.’
- ‘Known as a barbican, this part of the castle would have a drawbridge, a portcullis, arrow slits, machicolations (murder holes) - any devise that was thought to be useful at stopping the enemy.’
- 1.1 A projecting structure containing a series of machicolations.
- ‘Strictly called machicolations, defending soldiers above the murder holes would throw down onto the enemy underneath boiling water, boiling pitch etc., whatever was likely to put off the attacking soldiers.’
- ‘It was only when you passed underneath the machicolation of the nearest tower that you caught your first glimpse of the monastery that lay hidden in the depth of the gorge.’
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