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.
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.
Not only was the wall of Anthemius restored, but, at the distance of 20 yds., another wall was built in front of it, and at the same distance from this second wall a broad moat was constructed with a breastwork along its inner edge.