Portcullis, Pele and Privy #atozchallenge


Today, less about a specific castle and more about three P’s – the portcullis, privy and pele tower.

amberley portcullis

Amberley Castle

Portcullis is a grilled door made from iron clad wood, usually oak. Invented by the Romans in 200s BC and incorporated into castles in the 12th century. In later developments, the portcullis was linked to the drawbridge, so both would rise and fall together using ropes, pulleys and wheels.

Since these gates were made from wood, they decayed leaving behind only the slots in the stone walls.

The crowned portcullis is the official symbol of the UK parliament.

Privy – also known as necessarium, jakes, draught, garderobe and gong (those who emptied toilets were given the title of gong farmers). Usually in castles, the waste fell straight down a chute and into the ditch or moat below. In order to stop any brave besieger from climbing up the chute, iron bars were added to the ‘seat’ – how comfortable!


Pele tower – a strong tower built for refuge or as a lookout. Fires would be lit to signal approaching danger. Pele means enclosure. They were common along the borders of Scotland and England and there are 78 surviving Pele towers in Great Britain.

Arnside Pele

Arnside tower



needs the jakes

cold legs have the shakes

with no portcullis to protect





  1. Gong farmers! Learn something new every day!


    1. We’d say manure these days, but it does have a funny ring to it 🙂


  2. Great post. I knew a few things abotu this, but not all the story.
    The Pele tower imediately made me think at the sequence in the Lord of the Rings films where the fires are lit. One of my favourite 🙂

    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz


    1. It does me too, those beacons being lit across the mountains. It’s a fantastic cinematic moment in the film.


  3. I love old Euro fortresses. But when I hear Pele I think of the soccer great who played for the New York Cosmos.


  4. I love old Euro fortresses. But when I hear Pele I think of the soccer great who played for the New York Cosmos.

    Stephen Tremp


    1. We have quite a few here in the UK. Pele can also be spelt peel, which is how it is pronounced, so not quite a footballer. Thanks for stopping by.


  5. I knew the other terms, but no pele – thank you for teaching me 🙂
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)


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