In the moat, you might see large groups of strange looking thin, segmented, green reeds. These are horsetails, part of a family that is over 350 million years old. At their peak, these would have been huge plants, creating the wet forests of the Carboniferous period, where most of our fossil resources originate, some of these ancient habitats are today even referred to as “coal swamps”. Before modern trees evolved, the tallest things around were giant ferns and horsetails, it would have been an alien world populated by amphibians, small reptiles that would later become dinosaurs, and giant insects, including the mighty meganeura, a dragonfly as big as an eagle!
Fun Fact: There are 24 members of the Odonata group in Ireland, 11 damselflies and 13 larger dragonflies. The name Odonata comes from the Ancient Greek odon which means tooth, as they have toothed mandibles (mouthparts) even though almost all insects have these “teeth”.