The ancient walls of Avila, constructed of brown granite, and surmounted by a breastwork, with eighty-six towers and nine gateways, are still in excellent repair; but a large part of the city lies beyond their circuit.
On the east and west the ravines already mentioned afforded, in the main, a sufficient protection, so that a massive wall was unnecessary, while near the south-eastern angle a breastwork was formed by the excavation of the natural rock, 2 which in later times was honeycombed with tombs.
The walls are embanking walls, with a low breastwork in places.
Sulla captured it in 89 B.C. by setting on fire the wooden breastwork by which it was defended, and new fortifications were erected.
Next morning (October 14) William marched out from Hastings and attacked the English host, which stood at bay in a solid mass of spear and axemen behind a slight breastwork on the hillside.