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Encyclopedia > Fort

Fortifications (Latin fortis, strong, and facere, to make) are military constructions designed for defensive warfare. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs.

Nakhal Fort, one of the best-preserved forts in Oman. Photographed by Andy Carvin, October 2003.


Many military installations are known as forts, although they are not always fortified. Larger forts may class as fortresses, smaller ones formerly often bore the name of fortalices. The word fortification can also refer to the practice of improving an area's defense with defensive works.

The art of laying out a military camp or constructing a fortification traditionally classes as castrametation, since the time of the Roman legions. The art/science of laying siege to a fortification and of destroying it has the popular name of siegecraft and the formal name of poliorcetics. In some texts this latter term also applies to the art of building a fortification.

Bourtange fortification, restored to 1750 situation, Groningen (province), Netherlands

Fortification is usually divided into two branches, namely permanent fortification and field fortification. Permanent fortifications are erected at leisure, with all the resources that a state can supply of constructive and mechanical skill, and are built of enduring materials. Field fortifications are extemporized by troops in the field, perhaps assisted by such local labor and tools as may be procurable, and with materials that do not require much preparation, such as earth, brushwood and light timber. There is also an intermediate branch known as semipermanent fortification. This is employed when in the course of a campaign it becomes desirable to protect some locality with the best imitation of permanent defences that can be made in a short time, ample resources and skilled civilian labor being available.

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.

External links

  • 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica on Fortifications and siegecraft (http://85.1911encyclopedia.org/F/FO/FORTIFICATION_AND_SIEGECRAFT.htm)


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