Wall constructed to hold in place a mass of earth or prevent the erosion of an embankment. It may also be battered, with the face inclined toward the load it is bearing. The most basic type of reinforced retaining wall is the massive concrete gravity wall, which is prevented from falling over by the sheer weight and volume of its mass. A cantilever (L-shaped) retaining wall resists overturning by means of cantilever footings, spread footings (see foundation) shaped to resist overturning and sliding.
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Many revetments are used to line the banks of freshwater rivers, lakes, and man-made reservoirs, especially to prevent damage during periods of floods or heavy seasonal rains (see riprap).
According to the U.S. National Park Service, and referring mostly to their employment in the American Civil War, a revetment is defined as a "retaining wall constructed to support the interior slope of a parapet. Made of logs, wood planks, fence rails, fascines, gabions, hurdles, sods, or stones, the revetment provided additional protection from enemy fire, and, most importantly, kept the interior slope nearly vertical. Stone revetments commonly survive. A few log revetments have been preserved due to high resin pine or cypress and porous sandy soils. After an entrenchment was abandoned, many log or rail revetments were scavenged for other uses, causing the interior slope to slump more quickly. An interior slope will appear more vertical if the parapet eroded with the revetment still in place."