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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(September 7, 2004)

(Response from Anne Marie Lane Jonah)

What are those big spikes with diamond-shaped heads in the Dauphin Bastion Gate called?

A guess was "escutcheon" but that's not it. An escutcheon is a decorative or protective shield. Most commonly it is the background upon which heraldic emblems are displayed or the plate around a keyhole in a door. Those spikes are called, "diamond headed nails" by John Muller in his "A Treatise Containing the Elementary Part of Fortification," published in 1774. In a French text of the same era there is a reference to "clous … aux têtes rondes." Their purpose was to prevent the wood from being broken apart by axes, not the biggest concern of defenders by the 18th century.