A rampart in fortification architecture is a length of bank or wall forming part of the defensive boundary of a castle, hillfort, settlement or other fortified site. It is usually broad-topped and made of excavated earth or masonry or a combination of the two.
Many types of early fortification, from prehistory through to the Early Middle Ages, employed earth ramparts usually in combination with external ditches to defend the outer perimeter of a fortified site or settlement.Hillforts, ringforts or "raths" and ringworks all made use of ditch and rampart defences, and of course they are the characteristic feature of circular ramparts. The ramparts could be reinforced and raised in height by the use of palisades. This type of arrangement was a feature of the motte and bailey castle of northern Europe in the early medieval period.
Types of rampart
The composition and design of ramparts varied from the simple mounds of earth and stone, known as dump ramparts, to more complex earth and timber defences (box ramparts and timberlaced ramparts), as well as ramparts with stone revetments. One particular type, common in Central Europe, used earth, stone and timber posts to form a Pfostenschlitzmauer or "post-slot wall". Vitrified ramparts were composed of stone that was subsequently fired, possibly to increase its strength.