What is the real purpose of a moat around a castle?

We all know that lots of castles had moats around them. It is a commonly known thing. And typically we think of it as a nice obstacle that slows down or stops the sieging army from getting at the castle. At least without some kind of a bridge. And that is true. But that isn't the most important purpose of a moat!

 

The most important purpose of a moat is to prevent the attacking army from digging a tunnel underneath the castle! Yup! This process of digging a tunnel under a castle is called undermining. And it was meant to collapse a castle tower or a castle wall. This way the attacking troops could easy get through the breach.

This picture shows you a couple of things.

First off the undermine goes right under a tower. Once the attackers had that dug they could light it on fire, collapsing the wooden timbers that hold it up. This would collapse the mine and thus collapse the tower above.

But.... With a moat around the castle the attackers couldn't dig the tunnel. It would fill with water before they could get under the tower.

And there you go! The real purpose of a moat is to prevent attackers from digging or undermining the castle.

 

 

 

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