What is a Moat?; Sawankhalok Ceramics, Thailand; The Serpent Mound, Ohio, USA.

What is a Moat??

A moat is a deep ditch that surrounds a structure and designed to act as a defence against attack. Moats can be deep and wide, dry or wet.

Angers Castle Curtain and Moat © Adam Bishop
Angers Castle Curtain and Moat
© Adam Bishop

In Medieval times many castles were surrounded by moats, either wet or dry. Later on, fortified manor houses either added new moats or extended the ones they had, as castles went out of fashion and people wanted to live in more luxury houses, and therefore added them around their homes for protection from unwanted visitors and animals.

Baddesley Moated Manor House ©Wiki Commons
Baddesley Moated Manor House
©Wiki Commons

During the 16th Century moats went out of fashion and some were filled in, others were made into ornamental features and incorporated into gardens.

In the ancient world moats were used in Egypt, Nubia, Babylon, Assyria, Nigeria, Asia, and North America, and many other countries.

Angkor-Wat, Cambodia © Charles J Sharp
Angkor-Wat, Cambodia
© Charles J Sharp

Moats are still used today as a means of keeping people out – at zoos, spectators at events, and at some border regions to keep immigrants out. They are also used in modern buildings and provide design features in many luxury homes around the world.


  • “Baddesley”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baddesley.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Baddesley.jpg.
  • “Angkor-Wat-from-the-air” by Charles J Sharp – Taken from helicopter flying over Angkor Wat. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angkor-Wat-from-the-air.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Angkor-Wat-from-the-air.JPG.
  • Angers Castle Curtain and Moat – By Adam Bishop (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Archaeology Wow!! – Sawankhalok Ceramics, Thailand

Sawankhalok is located in north central Thailand, and the Sawankhalok ceramics date to around the 14-16th centuries. The ceramics include a creamy white slip, green glazed ware and brown and white ware.  They are unique in their form which also includes animal shapes and designs.

Rabbit-shaped Water Dropper from Thailand, Sawankhalok Ware, 16th Century © Wiki Commons
Rabbit-shaped Water Dropper from Thailand, Sawankhalok Ware, 16th Century
© Wiki Commons

There were around 600 kilns that operated and produced the ceramics, but over time, and with the introduction of more Chinese ware, the ceramic industry in Sawankhalok died out. Originally the ceramics came from Si Satchanalai, but over time the name changed to Sawankhalok.

Sawankhalok ware ©Wiki Commons
Sawankhalok ware
©Wiki Commons

The ceramics were exported mainly to the Philippines and Indonesia, and shipwrecks have been discovered with the ceramics on board. The Thai Ceramics Archaeological Project, headed by Thai and Australian teams in the 1980’s, found over 130 shipwrecks in the Gulf of Thailand containing the wares.

Sawankhalok Vase © Wiki Commons
Sawankhalok Vase
© Wiki Commons

The ceramics are stunning and my favourite are the animal ones! Check out a museum near you and see if you can view some of these cool pieces for yourself!


  • Miksic. J. N. 2009. Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery. Singapore: editions Didier Millet.
  • Selin. H. (ed.). 2008. Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Google eBook: Springer Science & Business Media.



Archaeological Site Guide – The Serpent Mound, Ohio, USA

The Serpent Mound is a large mound shaped like a snake and overlooks Brush Creek Valley, Adam’s County in Ohio. The mound is about 411 meters long and measures up to 1 meter high in places.

Great Serpent Mound © www.nlm.nih.gov
Great Serpent Mound
© www.nlm.nih.gov

The prehistoric site dates to around c.1070 CE and was originally thought to have been built by the Adena Culture (1000 to 200 BCE), but thanks to carbon 14 dating it has shown the Mound to have been constructed by the Fort Ancient Culture (1000-1750 CE).

The Mound was constructed by stacking stones on top of each other, then adding a layer of yellow clay and then covering it all with soil.

Serpent Mound Sketch © Frei.daniel
Serpent Mound Sketch
© Frei.daniel

It is the largest representation of a snake in the whole world, being coiled and with an open mouth. Just outside of it’s mouth is an oval object beleived to be an egg.

The site was first recorded in 1848 when it was written about in the book Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley by Ephraim Squire and Edwin Davis. In the late 19th century the Mound was excavated by Frederick Ward Putnam of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology at Harvard University.

Several theories have been put forward as to what the Serpent Mound may represent and the most common of these is astronomical alignment. There are also possible connections with the sun, and at certain times of the year when the sun highlights parts of the snake, it is beleived that it was marking the time of the changing seasons for harvesting and hunting.

Serpent Mound ©Wiki Commons
Serpent Mound
©Wiki Commons

The site is under the care of the Ohio Historic Society and well worth a visit!



Great Books to Read…….




Great Web Pages to Look At…….


Activity – word-search-13 March-2015-docx

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