What are the high ends of castles when they take the shape of tapered ends above the towers in them called?

I have drawn orange circles around some of them here in the picture:

enter image description here

Are they, by any chance, known as "domes" despite their unrounded figures? If they don't have a particular term, would by using "domes" be understood to indicate those parts of them?

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    By the way, Neuschwanstein, which you picture, isn't a 'real' castle but a 19th-century fantasy, like the castle at Disneyland modeled on it. – StoneyB Jul 22 at 14:40
  • This is very true indeed although it is a randomly selected picture just to show my imagination when I hear the word "castle" which I assume it is everyone's imagination. – Tasneem ZH Jul 22 at 15:16
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    @TasneemZH It's not "everyone's" imagination. Look at English castles for example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_castles_in_England Most of them were built to be used, not to look pretty! – alephzero Jul 23 at 0:46
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    In the german language we actually distinguish between those different types of castles. The english castles, in german I would call a 'Burg', which I'd translate to stronghold, while Neuschwanstein is a 'Schloss', which I see as a specific type of castle, some kind of mixture of a stronghold and a palace. – BluE Jul 23 at 14:48
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    @BluE _ Good to know that. I intended the later which I personally think is a building structure that is between a castle and a palace. Castles are mostly known for their strong defenses and are used in wars, while palaces, especially the modern ones, don't have any tops on them. According to my research, such structures would be categorized under castles. They might be imaginary ones, but at least they exist in cartoon movies, novels, and the like, which I'm aiming for here in my question. – Tasneem ZH Jul 23 at 21:46

The features you have circled are roofed turrets with spires.

A turret is a tower that is part of another structure such as a curtain wall or keep; it is not simply a free standing tower that goes all the way to the ground, it juts out of something else.

If the top of the turret is flat and intended as a fighting platform, it is considered unroofed, although it will typically be equipped with drainage and functionally equivalent to a flat roof. Turrets may have crenelated battlements (there are some crenelations on the bottom-right turret, but they look decorative rather than being something to protect defenders). Turrets can be straight sided or have larger tops supported by corbels, possibly with machicolation.

The spires are essentially just big spikes atop the turrets; they may have lighting rods, weather vanes, radio antennae, flags or other decorative features attached. Or they can be just big spikes - what makes them spires is that they are above the roof of the turrets and pointy.

  • So the spires are not the whole circled thing I did on the image?! Well, thank you a lot for the details. This is indeed a very informative answer. – Tasneem ZH Jul 23 at 21:51

The word that would be most easily recognised would be "spire", especially for the taller structures. This is usually used for the similarly shaped roof on a church.


A slender, pointed construction atop a building, often a church.

The descriptive phrase "conical roof" could be applied. There may be a technical architectural term. But as such roofs are not found on English castles of the middle ages there might not be an English term.

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    Probably the best known similar feature on an English castle would be the Tower of London, but those are more like small domes: hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/#gs.qwlvfi. There are a few others in the UK, like this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_castles_in_England#/media/… – alephzero Jul 23 at 0:45
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    Those constructions are not "slender", so I don't think any lay person would call them a spire - far too strongly linked to Churches anyway. – Mike Brockington Jul 23 at 10:55
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    I feel it's not a spire. It's a decoration on top of a parapet, which is not a spire. These conical roofs really have no connection to spires. – Fattie Jul 23 at 18:08

I would think that "turret" would be a reasonable word. I have also heard "dunce cap" being used figuratively for the tall conical version of the top of a castle tower. That is very informal.

On further thought, the word "pinnacle" also can be used for such a structure.

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    A turret is a small tower on the top corner of a larger tower several turrets are visible in the picture. A pinnacle is a small tower at the top of a wall, again there are lots of pinnacles. However, this question seems to be about the roof, not the tower. – James K Jul 22 at 19:12
  • @JamesK "pinnacle" is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as "a small pointed structure on top of a building," which would seem to include the structures shown. – David Siegel Jul 22 at 19:44
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    I checked the architectural meaning of pinnacle while researching this. Pinnacles are the small towers which protude along the cornice. At any rate, they are the tower, not the roof, hence not the answer. – James K Jul 22 at 21:20

That roof is simply a "conical roof" and the structure it tops is a "turret" according to the Architectural Trust. https://architecturaltrust.org/outreach/education/glossary-of-architectural-terms/

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    Further down that page, you get to "Spire: A slender, pointed construction atop a building, often a church." – RonJohn Jul 23 at 2:52
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    Those are not slender at all. they're chubby, pointy, and conical. – Fattie Jul 23 at 18:08
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    Probably better to refine it to "tower roof" to distinguish it from others. They are towers, even when they are quite squat or the only tower. – mckenzm Jul 23 at 18:46
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    @RonJohn, spires aren't usually habitable, and are usually distinct from roofs. Spires can contain passages for servicing equipment like radio antennae (the spire on the Chrysler Building) or a zeppelin mooring station (the spire on the Empire State Building). If you check out the wikipedia entry for "steeple" you will see a diagram showing how a spire is distinct from the other parts. But spire is a much vaguer architectural term than "tower" or "turret" and mostly just means "a pointy bit at the top of something" - so you're not wrong, you're just less right. ;) See my answer below! – Medievalist Jul 23 at 20:06

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