How to Build a Do-It-Thyself Moat With Nothing but a Lakeside Castle and 3,000 Serfs

'Tis Soe Easy!

By Moat Correspondent Joanna McNaney Stein

Come hither and be the talk of the Kingdom! Hast thee plans for summ’r? Hast thee enemies or just neighbors whomst happen to be pillaging marauders? If thou be’st a Prince or Duke with a lakeside castle and at least 3,000 serfs, thou must prepare thy defenses! Heed these instructions and a moat shall be thine!

1. Order thy Serfs Into Action

Decree from atop thy parapet, “All serfs must dig ‘round the castle walls or be punish’d by death!” Be sure to puncheth at the air whilst thy pronouncement thou makest.

2. Acquire One Wheelbarrow or a Thousand

Plunder said wheelbarrows if thou hast none.

3. Refyne the Plan

If thou a drawbridge desires, thou wills’t need heartier serfs because many of the first 3,000 wilt surely die whilst digging.

4. Supervise

Keepest thy serfs in lyne whilst they removeth leagues of dirt with bare hands, rudimentary tools, and newly found mortal remains.

5. Ye Finishing Touches

Flood the moat by digging a trench from ye lake to moat pit.  Keepest thy livestock away from the ditch lest they be eaten by hungry serfs. Post sign declaring “Dumpeth Not!” near moat (although ‘tis fyne to dump a few serfs in there).

6. Sitteth back and enjoy thy new splendour

Congratulations, thou hast thy very own moat, and it likely only cost a few hundred serf lives! Don’t forget to pay thy Moat Tax to The King!


Joanna M. Stein is a scribe, jester and amateur tarot card soothsayer who hath an MFA and studieth with The Second City. Her work hath appeared in Bust, LGBTQ Nation, Frazzled, Flexx, Greener Pastures, Brooklyn Rail, and Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction. www.joanna-stein.com


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