Example of palisade

Researchers: Dustin MacDonald & Theurn Campbell, Grade 12

A palisade is a wall constructed around forts or settlements. The purpose of a palisade is to protect the occupants behind them from attacks. 1950s Archaeologist Wilfred Jury believed that Fort Willow had a palisade, but his evidence for this conclusion cannot be confirmed due to a lack of notes, descriptions, drawings or photos from his excavations. Historic documents relating to the Fort also seem to indicate that no palisade ever existed at the Fort. It is because of this ‘palisade controversy’ that only a portion of the palisade has been reconstructed at the Fort today.

Palisades have been used for fortifications since the time of the Roman Empire. Ancient Greek and Roman palisades are not much different from what the British would have used during the War of 1812. Some native groups in pre-European North America also used palisades as defensive structures.

Palisades were made by cutting down small or mid-sized trees. The logs gathered could then be sharpened at the top to make for a sharp point. Holes would be dug around the fort/village for the sharpened logs to be placed in and erected side by side for best defense. The height of the logs ranged from a few feet to ten feet tall. They were not used to protect large forts/villages. Palisades were vulnerable to fire and siege weapons.

Reconstructed 1960s palisade remains from during archaeology excavations at Fort Willow
Post remains from a 1960s reconstructed palisade at Fort Willow


Wikipedia contributors. “Palisade.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


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