Your guide to Martello Towers in the UK and throughout the world.

Martello Towers Encyclopedia

LogoMartello Towers, sometimes known simply as Martellos, are small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards. Most were coastal forts. Between 1796 and 1815, 194 towers were built; both in Britain and its dependencies, as part of a comprehensive defensive scheme and as a direct result of the British being at war with both France and the United States of America.
This page provides a comprehensive A to Z listing to sources of information about Martello Towers. You can either scroll down the page to view the subject headings or just click on the relevant A-Z letter of the subject, topic etc you require.   

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About Martello Towers

    Index Icon Origins and Purpose        Index Icon Design and Construction         Index Icon Glossary of Terms        Index Icon Interesting Facts 

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Glossary of Terms  Courtesy of England Heritage Guide to Martello Tower No. 24 and the Towers of Strength by W H Clements

Amusette  Long-barrelled, small-calibre wall gun
Ashlar  Square-hewn stones
Batter  Backward slope of the surface of a wall 
Barbette  Position in which guns are mounted to fire over a parapet rather than through embrasures in the parapet wall
BL  Breech-loading
Caponier  Covered passage constructed across or projecting into, a ditch to provide sheltered communication across the ditch or to defend it
Carronade  Large-calibre, short-barrelled gun

Case-shot  Numerous small metal balls packed into a canister that bursts when fired from a muzzle-loading gun. Used as an anti-personnel weapon
Chamfer  Surface produced by bevelling the intersection of two planes
Coehorn  Small, portable mortar
Corbel  Projection of stone, timber, etc. jutting out from a wall to support its weight
Cordon  Stone string course at the top or part way up a wall
Counterscarp  Outer wall of a ditch
Counterscarp Gallery  Vaulted chamber constructed in the counterscarp scarp in order to defend the ditch
Cunette Narrow moat in the middle of a dry ditch, built to improve drainage
Curtain  Main wall of a fortified place which runs between the towers, bastions or gates

Embrasure  Opening in a parapet or wall through which a gun can be fired

Fencibles  Volunteer force first raised in 1794 by the War Office for home service (including Ireland) and paid on a regular basis
Flint-lock  Mechanism on musket in which a spark from a flint ignites the priming powder and fires the weapon
Frizzen  An L-shaped piece of steel hinged at the rear used in flintlock firearms, positioned over the flash pan so to enclose a small priming charge of black powder
              next to the flash hole that is drilled through the barrel, such that when fired the flint scrapes it so as to create a spark.

Grape-shot  Shell-shaped projectile, formed by packing small iron shot around a spindle on a plate in a canvas bag. Effective up to 600 yds, a greater range than the                          lighter case-shot. Used against ships' rigging, as well as anti-personnel
Glacis  Open slope extending from the ditch giving a clear field of fire to the defenders

Howitzer  Light gun which fired a heavy projectile with considerable accuracy at a high angle of elevation

Junk Wad  Rope wad which was inserted into muzzle-loading gun between the gunpowder and the shot

Keep  Central tower of a fort or castle serving as a postion of last defence

Machicolation  Gallery projecting from the wall of a tower with openings between the corbels through which fire can be brought on an enemy at the base of the
Musket  Standard smooth-bore hand-gun used by armies, until made obsolete by the introduction of the rifle in the nineteenth century

Parapet Stone breastwork designed to give the defenders on 1 a wall or tower cover from fire and observation
Pas de souris  Staircase giving access to a ditch

Pounder  Definition of the power of a muzzle-loading gun by the weight of the shot fired

QF  Quick-firing
Quatrefoil  Four-cusped figure resembling a leaf with four branches (e.g., a four-leafed clover)

Racer Circular or semi-circular, horizontal metal rail along which the traversing platform of a heavy gun moves

Redoubt  A detached defensive outwork
Render (to) To cover with a coat of plaster
RML  Rifled muzzle loader: type of gun in use between 1850 and1890, just before the advent of modern breech-loading (BL) guns
Sallyport Passage giving access to the ditch for use by the defenders making a counterattack or sortie
SB Smooth-bore
Sea Fencibles  Home-based seamen who guarded coastal waters and anchorages
Shot  Non-explosive solid projectile fired from a muzzle-loading gun
Slow Match  Rope fuse which was slow burning
Stucco  Coarse plaster or cement used to cover the exterior surfaces of walls
Terreplein  Area on top of a rampart or tower and surrounded by a parapet where guns are mounted
Tete de pont Fortification defending the approaches to a bridge
Trefoil  Three-cusped figure resembling a leaf with three branches (e.g., a shamrock)
Wallpiece  Small, muzzle-loading gun usually mounted on the wall of fortress and traversed by means of a swivel (sometimes called a swivel gun)

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