Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Word of the Day -- Palisade

A palisade—sometimes called a stakewall or a paling—is typically a fence or wall made from wooden stakes or tree trunks and used as a defensive structure or enclosure.

Typical construction consisted of small or mid-sized tree trunks aligned vertically, with no free space in between. The trunks were sharpened or pointed at the top, and were driven into the ground and
sometimes reinforced with additional construction. The height of a palisade ranged from a few feet to nearly ten feet. As a defensive structure, palisades were often used in conjunction with earthworks.

Palisades were an excellent option for small forts or other hastily constructed fortifications. Since they were made of wood, they could often be quickly and easily built from readily available materials. They proved to be effective protection for short-term conflicts and were an effective deterrent against small forces. However, because they were wooden constructions they were also vulnerable to fire and siege weapons.

Often, a palisade would be constructed around a castle as a temporary wall until a permanent stone wall could be erected. They were frequently used in New France.

Both the Greeks and Romans created palisades to protect their military camps. The Roman historian Livy describes the Greek method as being inferior to that of the Romans during the Second Macedonian War. The Greek stakes were too large to be easily carried and were spaced too far apart. This made it easy for enemies to uproot them and create a large enough gap in which to enter. In contrast, the Romans used smaller and easier to carry stakes which were placed closer together, making them more difficult to uproot.

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