What Are Ramparts?

Pop quiz time…what was so gallantly streaming in the Star-Spangled Banner?

Answer: the ramparts.

Second question: what are ramparts?

Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

What Are Ramparts?

Here’s the definition according to dictionary.com:

[ram-pahrt, -pert]



  1. a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet.
  2. such an elevation together with the parapet.

anything serving as a bulwark or defense.

My first thought is now I want to know what a parapet or a bulwark are. Sounds like animals from whatever weird land a Teletubbies came from.

But back to the topic at hand…

The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key after the US victory at the Battle of Baltimore, during the War of 1812. Scott Key was reflecting on the patriotic feeling he had when he saw the enormous US flag flying over the US fort in Baltimore.

So, basically, a rampart is the protective protective barrier Scott Key saw when he witnessed the flag flying over Fort Henry. If you sprinkle in a little poetic license you get the following:

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?”

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