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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Battlement (2)

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is a notched or indented parapet originally used only on fortifications and intended for service, but afterwards employed on ecclesiastical and other edifices and intended for ornament only. The solid parts of a battlement are called nerlons, and the intervals between them embrasures, but these are rather military terms than ecclesiastical. In the earlier battlements the embrasures appear to have been narrow in proportion to the size of the merlons. On ecclesiastical buildings the battlements are often richly panelled, or pierced with circles, trefoils, quatrefoils, etc., and the coping is frequently continued up the sides of the merlons so as to form a continuous line roilnd them, as at St. George's, Windsor, and St. Peter's, Dorchester. On fortifications the battlements are generally quite plain, or pierced only with a very narrow, cruciform, or upright opening, the ends of which often terminate in circles, called loop-holes or oillets, through which archers could shoot. Sometimes the coping on the top of the merlons is carried over the embrasures, producing nearly the appearance of a pierced parapet, as at the leaning tower at Caerphilly. Occasionally on military structures figures of warriors or animals are carved on the tops of the merlons, as at Alnwick and Cliepstow castles. Towards the end of the 13th century, and afterwards, battlements are very frequently used in ecclesiastical work as orna ments on cornices, tabernacle work, and other minor features, and in the Perpendicular style are sometimes found on the transoms and bases of windows. It is remarkable that the use of this ornament is almost entirely confined to the English styles of Gothic architecture. In Wales a peculiar battlement is used, as at Swansea and St. David's, which has a hollow space under it to allow of. the free passage of the water from the roof, an ingenious contrivance suitable to the climate. It is used chiefly in the 14th century.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Battlement (2)'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/b/battlement-2.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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