Taking care of our moat
Tattershall Castle is embraced by a double moat that made the way to the inner ward a trail through bridges and gatehouses. Its outline has changed through centuries, it has been filled and excavated and its purpose certainly changed but has always been a fundamental part of the site.
Over the years and despite the best efforts of the very small grounds team, the moat had gone from ‘clear and obvious’ to ‘clogged and invisible’ due to the encroachment of bulrush, sedge, etc. Things had got so bad that the resident great crested newts, of which we have a significant number, were struggling to find suitable breeding sites. It had also become increasingly unsightly for the more than 52,000 visitors who come through our doors each year.
A plan was proposed to clear the moat totally of all surface vegetation. Working with partner agencies and with advice from the region’s Wildlife & Countryside Adviser, Natural England and local wildlife groups, the plan evolved and was eventually approved. This winter, whilst the newts are hibernating, phase one of the works has seen the physical removal of some 30 tonnes of vegetation! A watching brief was made to ensure no wildlife was harmed or disturbed during this process.
Phase two this spring will see us mark out ‘islands of vegetation’, the rest of the moat bed being sprayed with a suitably safe and approved herbicide to knock back the rushes and sedges. These islands will include areas of newts beneficial plants, as well as nesting habitat for the water fowl that also live here – coots, moorhens, Egyptian geese, ducks, etc. They will also provide good insect habitat which will in turn benefit the large bat colony we have in the castle. Phase three will see the moat refilled with water, and the final phase will be ongoing manual clearance by the grounds team.
Water from the Moat is pumped (under licence from the Environment Agency) from the nearby River Bain and as it is primarily to maintain a protected species this at no cost to the Natural Trust. 2017 saw 15,000 Cubic Meters of water being pumped.
This project will produce a twofold result both of equal importance: 1) Increased & better habitat for water fowl, dragon flies and protected species 2) A better visitor experience.