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The Golden Gloss

The medieval glossary of English (old/middle/modern) words as used in the middle ages. Of highlight are words misunderstood or unknown to the general public (or newer participants.)

UPDATED 09/01/2023

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There are currently 20 terms in this directory beginning with the letter B.
An enclosed courtyard.

A canopy over the highest place on the top table in dining.

An embroidered cover for a bench or chair.
A projecting outwork designed to protect a gateway.

Originally (in the 14th century) refers to a dog. By the late 15th century it begins to refer to a noisy person.

Part of the defenses of a castle standing proud from the wall and giving a good field of coverage for defenders.

A collective term referring to the defensive structure on walls, towers, and buildings of fortified structures such as castles, inclusive of whatever combination of parapets, crenellations, and/or machicolations existed.

A wooden siege tower, for protecting troops as they scale walls. The current sense of being associated with bell towers started in the 1700s.

A piece of plate armor protecting the chin and neck designed to operate with a helmet and/or its visor.

Bill or Billhook
The former being an curved blade on a stick arboreal tool, when made larger or affixed to a longer pole it was commonly used by English commoners as military weapons. Eventually the billhook took on a life of its own as an iconic weapon and was made purpose built for war with additional hooks, spear points, and spikes.

Bodkin (arrowhead)
A type of arrowhead which is round or diamond shaped and sharply pointed with the intent of puncturing and penetrating plate and mail armor.

Book of Hours
A special book containing the prayers for each hour of the day.

An English peasant who holds no land save for a cottage and messuage. Similar to Cottager and Cotter.

Breastplate (armor)
A piece of plate armor in one solid or sometimes three segments which covers the upper chest from collar bone to the diaphragm.

A small shield, commonly made of metal or a combination of metal and leather, held in a center grip and typically used in conjunction with a short or arming sword.

Butt (archery)
[14th c.] An earthen berm style archery set up, a mound of earth on which a target was placed to work as a stop for the arrows.

Butt (container/measurement)
[14th c.] A barrel or cask for wine, ale, or liquor. Eventually developed into an official measurement of 108 - 140 gallons, roughly two hogsheads.

Butt (objects)
[14th c.] "The thick end" of something.

Butt (verb)
[14th c.] To strike something against something else.

A storage space for, primarily liquor, and other liquid provisions. Developed from the Old French word boterie and the storage container barrel called a butt.


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