Sand Castle Building Terminology - Part One

Understanding sand castle building terminology is one of the most essential skills that you need to know, as a hobbyist, if you are to get by in this arena. Whether you are standing out on a beach and talking to other hobbyists or checking out the beautiful creations at sand sculpture building competitions, you will need to know exactly what you are talking about or what someone else is saying. The best part about sand castle building terminology is that a lot of it is the same as what you would expect for a castle, simply because you are effectively building a castle, just out of sand.

So, to help you understand the ways and words of the professionals and of websites that talk about sand castle building, here's a look at basic sand castle building terminology that will help you get by.

Basic Sand Castle building Terminology

Abiogenic Sands:

These are mineral sands that are produced by non-living elements, most of which are rocks. The sand on beaches starts its life as a rock somewhere on the Earth, which is broken down by wind and water erosion as well as temperature changes to form what you see and use every day in sand castle building


The stone path that runs along the top of a wall, right behind the battlements on a (sand) castle


A form of semi-circular extension placed onto a rectangular building that is added for design to a sand castle - finds its origins in Norman times


Creating a row of columns to support arches in your sand castle


A person who collects samples of sand and studies their texture, colour, location and the minerals they are made of

Arrow Loop:

These were loops built into castle walls that were designed for archers to shoot through. In the case of crossbows, these were horizontally cut into castle walls


An inner courtyard or the area on the inside of a castle, at ground-level


An extension to the gate, that was just like a smaller version of the gate, and was useful in providing extra spots to defend along the way to the castle's entrance

Barrel Vault:

A half-barrel shaped arch that was used regularly when building a stone ceiling


A turret, generally small in size, that was placed on the top corners on the walls of castles or along the towers, which protruded out of the regular line of the wall


A defensive tower or a turret that is generally placed along the top of the wall


The bottom of a wall that was flared out or wider than the top part of the wall to ensure greater stability & strength when building the wall


These are parapets that are built along the top of the walls so that soldiers can stand and fire at people who are moving around below


Usually a siege tower that's placed within the compound of a castle, and can be moved around

Biogenic Sand:

Sand that is formed from the skeletal remains of plants or animals. They are also known as organic sands because they come from organisms that once were alive


Temporary wooden platforms, on walls, for soldiers to stand on and throw or drop objects/hot oil on the enemy


A distinctly shaped house built within the castle, that would be used to make ale for the residents of the castle


The room where all the prepared ale was stored in casks

Concentric Defensive Walls:

A second round of walls that are right behind the first or outer walls, ensuring that there are two barriers of protection against the enemy

Coat of Arms:

A symbol or signage that represented the royal family, much like a logo represents a company today


Vertical openings to allow archers to fire their arrows from, or to position and shoot a cannon from - always along the battlements

Cross Wall:

an internal wall that was specifically designed to support floors and roofs, dividing rooms and often blocking attacks


A keep or a great tower that was regularly used to house prisoners and also considered as the starting point of the term "Dungeon"


A bridge that can be pulled up and lowered with a chain. It acts as a gate in itself, shutting or opening up the castle entrance along with regular doors, if any


A variation of a sand castle building technique where sand is mixed with water and, then, dribbled or dripped from a fist held above. This dripping technique is another way of making sand castles

There are many different terms that are used in the hobby of building sand castles and if you are in the know, when it comes to sand castle building terminology, then you will find it much easier to find your way around the beach and share your knowledge with other enthusiasts and hobbyists. So go ahead and start flaunting your knowledge of sand castle building terminology!

For Part Two of our series on sand castle building terminology, click here Sand Castle Building Terminology - Part Two!

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