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Fishpond complex, 260m east of Castle Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Kenilworth, Warwickshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3439 / 52°20'38"N

Longitude: -1.5862 / 1°35'10"W

OS Eastings: 428286.209699

OS Northings: 271841.46645

OS Grid: SP282718

Mapcode National: GBR 5LK.1S8

Mapcode Global: VHBX9.GB9Z

Entry Name: Fishpond complex, 260m east of Castle Farm

Scheduled Date: 27 October 1970

Last Amended: 19 May 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007719

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21556

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Kenilworth

Built-Up Area: Kenilworth

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Kenilworth St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

Details

The monument is situated approximately 260m east of Castle Farm within the
town of Kenilworth and includes a set of fishponds.
The fishponds have been built adjacent to small tributary of the Finham Brook
in a field known from map evidence as the 'Pondyards'. The stream channel
marks the eastern boundary to the site. The complex of 14 individual ponds are
visible as shallow, rectangular depressions laid out symmetrically to form a
tight group. There are two distinct sizes of ponds within the complex; 12
ponds measure approximately 22m by 8m, and the two ponds which define the
site's western boundary measure 58m by 9m. A number of the fishponds have been
partly infilled but survive as buried features beneath the ground surface and
are included in the scheduling. Although the north west pond is now partly
situated beneath a private garden, the extent of this pond is known from early
Ordnance Survey maps. The northern ponds are seasonally waterlogged. The south
west ponds are most clearly visible as earthworks and are up to 0.5m deep.
The ponds are inter-connected by narrow channels, several of which remain
visible, and a number of sluices would have originally controlled the water
supply within each individual pond. A shallow, dry ditch running west-east to
the south of the fishpond complex, is thought to have been an original inlet
channel. This feature also defines the southern extent of the complex. The
outlet channel is thought to have been located in the north east part of
the site.
The site was originally associated with Kenilworth Castle and was part of the
Castle's estates.
All fence posts on the site are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground
beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to
provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the
ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a
narrow valley. Groups of up to twelve ponds variously arranged in a single
line or in a cluster and joined by leats have been recorded. The ponds may be
of the same size or of several different sizes with each pond being stocked
with different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to
function, with large ponds thought to have had a storage capability whilst
smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding.
Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet
and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream, a series of sluices
set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an
overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented
flooding.
Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and islands
possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas,
are also recorded.
The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the
medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the
wealthy sectors of society with monastic institutions and royal residences
often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of obtaining fresh
meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein
content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the
development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of
constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in
the 16th century although in some areas it continued into the 17th century.
Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period although some
were re-used as ornamental features in 19th and early 20th century landscape
parks or gardens, or as watercress beds.
Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds
were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench,
pickerel, bream, perch, and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied
at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and
cleared.
Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and
Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in
areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and
parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams where other sources of
fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of
waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most
fishponds were located close to villages, manors or monasteries or within
parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Although
approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be
only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite being
relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other
classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.

The fishpond complex, 260m east of Castle Farm survives well and is
unencumbered by modern development. The waterlogged ponds will retain
important archaeological and organic deposits providing evidence for the date
of the site's construction and for the duration of its use. The close
proximity and direct association of the complex with Kenilworth Castle is
reflected in the scale and sophistication of these ponds.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Fish, J, Kenilworth, (1962)
Other
Title:
Source Date: 1925
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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