The word 'moat' originated from its French version 'motte', meaning a mound or hillock. In contemporary times a moat is regarded as a deep, broad ditch that is dug around castles. There are so many intriguing facts surrounding castles, one of which is moats, raising questions: Why on earth did castles have moats?\n\n\n\nCastles have moats because they were a part of its intricate defence system. Additionally, moats served as a go-to reserve against famine\/ or hard times. Finally, history tells us that moats protected castles against the attack and may have served as ponds where seafood was reared; or as a source of sand\/ earth for building tall walls.\n\n\n\nImage by Tim Bigger from Pixabay\n\n\n\nSo, as you can see, castle moats were very important; Some ditches were filled with water, while others were left dry. \n\n\n\nIn this article, we explored the common uses of castle moats throughout their history's timeline so we could answer all your questions regarding the castle moat. \n\n\n\nSo read on and let us know what you think in the comment section.\n\n\n\n\nBook a trip to your favourite castle\n\n\n\n\nThe History of Castles and moats\n\n\n\nIt is impossible to talk about castle moats without addressing the nature of assaults that castles faced at the time. \n\n\n\nIn the medieval era, kings and nobles built castle moats for defence purposes in the following ways:\n\n\n\n1. To prevent penetration into the castle: Since ancestors built moats roundabout castles, assailants could not wage war on the castle without mounting a bridge or moving their equipment over the ditch. \n\n\n\nWhile the attackers planted their bridges, the castle security could easily spot them and prepare for the attack in advance.\n\n\n\n2. To prevent an underground assault: Moats protected castles by preventing attackers from digging underground tunnels to the bottom of the castles and attacking from there. \n\n\n\nIn the medieval era, one of the significant ways to bring down a castle gate was to burn it underground. \n\n\n\nSo, castles that had moats filled with water had nothing to worry about in that regard because every hole dug would be filled with water.\n\n\n\n3. To prevent the movement of assault weapons: Castles were fortified, but so also were the weapons created to bring them down. \n\n\n\nExamples of such weapons are the siege towers and battering rams, both made of wood. Such heavy merchandise could not be carried or transported over the moats, reducing attacks from such destabilizing weapons.\n\n\n\nIn more recent times, we can see moats used for warfare, decoration, and design and defence mechanisms but these latter moats were not necessarily attached to a castle.\n\n\n\nHow were moats made?\n\n\n\nEngineers mostly built castle moats manually. Since they were made for a purpose, the sizes and depths of ditches varied. \n\n\n\nThe builders were digging holes as far, as wide, and as deep as they wanted. Also, at the time, there were limited building tools, so manpower played a huge role. \n\n\n\nSometimes, castle owners filled moats with water, and other times, they diverted lakes into the moat, and they were left bare in some cases. \n\n\n\nAs time progressed, the idea behind moats led to water as a defence mechanism, as shown in the Bodiam Castle of 1385, built on an artificial lake. \n\n\n\nIn parts of Africa and Asia, moats were dug, and the sand\/ earth gotten from them was used to build tall walls to protect cities, communities, or castles, as the case may be. Where such a moat are filled with water, the city is near to impenetrable. \n\n\n\nLastly, on this note, some moats were natural, but most often than not, they were not castle moats (because obviously, nature didn't consult castle owners before turning an area into a moat). \n\n\n\nNatural moats were often swarmed with water during a flood in early times, and many communities filled theirs with waste.\n\n\n\nMyths and Facts about Castle Moats.\n\n\n\nNow, let's answer some myths or facts about castle moats.!\n\n\n\nCrocodiles and Alligators in moats (Myth or fact?)?\n\n\n\nIf you are a castle-moats lover, then you must have come across the common notion that alligators, crocodiles, and all such scary animals were placed inside moats to dissuade attackers from trying to swim through. \n\n\n\nPlease discard that notion \u2013 It is more of a myth than fact. \n\n\n\nMoats were man-made; they were usually too small and scientifically not suitable habitats for alligators or crocodiles.\n\n\n\nDo castle Moats Stink (myth or fact?)\n\n\n\nThey did but, not anymore. If we reverse back to the middle ages when the castles were in use, the architects built the latrines (toilets) so that all the excrements would be dropped into the moat.\n\n\n\nSo we can imagine what smell persisted near the moat, not the best place to go for a walk.\n\n\n\nToday, the castles have a modern plumbing system, so you probably won't find a stinking moat.\n\n\n\nFishes in moats (Myth or fact?): \n\n\n\nAnother often-quoted statement is that moats contained fishes.\n\n\n\nAgain, this appears to be an assumption that has historical relevance. History tells us that it is highly probable that some communities\/ castle owners reared fishes and other small seafood in moats. \n\n\n\nSuch that in the event of a famine or scarcity, the moats were backup food reserves. \n\n\n\nIn some moats, you are allowed fishing today at the same time admiring the ruins, like the KIRBY MUXLOE CASTLE in England.\n\n\n\nCan you swim in a moat of a castle (myth or fact?)\n\n\n\nIt solely depends on you. Security protocols may or may not allow it, however. Also, if the moat stinks, nobody would want to.\n\n\n\nOther Uses of moats\n\n\n\nIn contemporary times, the uses of moats have changed radically. Castles no longer have moats as a necessity. \n\n\n\nThe reasons for this differ. First, assaults no longer come by way of underground digging or siege towers. \n\n\n\nNowadays, assaults are in the form of bullets using more advanced mechanisms. Additionally, moats have also attained decorative purposes.\n\n\n\nAlthough castle moats are now more decorative than functional for residential purposes, moats now also have architectural and warfare usages. Thus, for example, we now have anti-terrorist moats built for specific purposes.\n\n\n\nDid you enjoy this article? There is more about castle features like turrets, drawbridge, dungeons, foundation, portcullises in our blog section, make sure you have a read through and good luck in your castle adventure.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFind out more\n\n\n\n\nLists o top castles around the world.