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Translated Jeff Matthews

The term is from Spanish, caponere, capponaia or stia, and from Venetian, caponera. The Italian terms are capponiera and cappannato. A caponier normally takes on the form of a protected open-air post. Sometimes, especially with the development of offensive and defensive systems, it developed into a casemate for use by riflemen and for small and medium caliber artillery, but also more recently for automatic weapons. The caponier served in defence of the bottom of the trench by means of enfilade fire or, where there was no trench, in the defence of the curtain wall. It may communicate with other works by means of underground tunnels.

At the beginnings of the 19th century, the Prussians put in place a series of fortifications in which the caponier played a particular defensive role. In the fort of the city of Poznan (Poland), they built a “Prussian system” of caponiers in which the emplacements and magazines were protected by a thick layer of earth, while the couterscarp of the trench was equipped with a tunnel that connected to the caponiers by way of an underground passage that, in turn, branched off to anti-mine installations.


Padovan Gianluca (ed. ), Archaeology of the Subsoil. Lectures and studies of artificial cavities. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 1416, Oxford 2005.

Basilico Roberto et alii, Italian Cadastre of Artificial Cavities. Part 1. (Including introductory comments and a classification), B.A.R. International Series 1599, Oxford 2007.

Gianluca Padovan (Associazione S.C.A.M. – Federazione Nazionale Cavità Artificiali)

Click on images to enlarge

Caponier (Borgatti M., La fortificazione permanente)

Caponier for artillery (Borgatti M., La fortificazione permanente)

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  • Guest - Phil Mayers


    I have also read that caponiers have built Prussian system, that trench has been set with a tunnel and branched off to anti-mine installations.

    Comment last edited on about 3 years ago by NeandertalMan
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