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Last edited 21 Sep 2021
A section through the ditch and rampart of a typical early modern artillery fortification (16th to 19th centuries). The elements are: a) glacis, b) banquette, c) covered way or covertway d) counterscarp, e) ditch, f) cunette, g) scarp, h) faussebraye, i) chemin de ronde, j) rampart (exterior slope), k) parapet, m) terreplein.
As a form of medieval military fortification, a scarp (also referred to as escarp or escarpment) was a term used to describe the inner slope of a defensive ditch. The outer portion of the slope or ditch was referred to as the counterscarp. Scarp and counterscarp defensive fortifications were built below grade - but visible to attackers - and adjacent to a moat or ditch.
NB With respect to modern topographic wind effects, the term escarpment, is defined by the ICC’s 2018 International Residential Code, as ‘a cliff or steep slope generally separating two levels or gently sloping areas.’
Scarp and counterscarp structures were introduced as a form of military defence in the 1500s. The technique was developed by Italians as a form of protection against enemies using cannons in their attacks.
 Improvements by Fra Giovanni Giocondo
The angled rampart proved more effective against cannon fire, and a few years later, the method was further advanced by Fra Giovanni Giocondo, a monk who had trained as an architect, draughtsman and engineer. Fra Giocondo was also involved in municipal engineering projects - such as road construction and bridge foundations (including the Pont Notre-Dame in Paris) - and was part of the team involved with the construction of the foundation piers of St. Peter's Basilica.
With extensive knowledge developed through his archaeological studies, Fra Giocondo was called upon by officials in several cities around Europe. During this period, he was asked to provide advice on military fortifications, which is when he proposed the idea of scarp and counterscarp fortifications. Fra Giocondo incorporated a sunken ditch into his sloping scarp-counterscarp design.
 Additional modifications
Later advances provided additional protection to the scarp and counterscarp defense through the introduction of a stone faced glacis on the slopes. In some instances, the counterscarp may have been protected further with paling fencing to make it more difficult for attackers to invade.
This type of fortress configuration was used for several centuries, until advances in weaponry required a new solutions.
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