Ancient Monuments

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Two fishponds associated with Quarr Abbey at Puckers Copse, Newnham

A Scheduled Monument in Ryde, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.7252 / 50°43'30"N

Longitude: -1.1989 / 1°11'55"W

OS Eastings: 456642.937279

OS Northings: 92033.044209

OS Grid: SZ566920

Mapcode National: GBR 9CL.HQ9

Mapcode Global: FRA 87C5.BRG

Entry Name: Two fishponds associated with Quarr Abbey at Puckers Copse, Newnham

Scheduled Date: 7 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014729

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22035

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Ryde

Built-Up Area: Ryde

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Binstead Holy Cross

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes two adjoining fishponds situated on an east facing slope
and associated with the nearby monastery at Quarr. They are aligned
north-south with a common dam between them, and a leat entering at the
junction between the ponds. Each fishpond has an earthwork bank enclosing a
depression from which material was quarried during its construction. The
northern pond, which is roughly rectangular in shape, still retains water. It
is the smaller of the two and measures c.80m north-south and c.42m east-west
at its widest point. The southern pond, which is pear-shaped, is now dry. This
pond measures c.150m north-south at its maximum extent and c.95m east-west at
its widest point.
There are additional associated earthworks on the west side of the northern
pond, and at the junction of the two ponds; a leat joins the ponds at a common
point on their east side. This leat runs south parallel with the southern pond
on its east side, and travels northwards to open into the east side of the
precinct of the medieval abbey of Quarr. The leat was made in order to fill
the higher northern pond, and then, by a series of sluices, the lower southern
pond. A stone wall was discovered within the last ten years during digging at
the junction of the two ponds on their west side.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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
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
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 fishponds at Pucker's Copse survive well and will contain archaeological
information and environmental evidence relating to the fishponds and the
landscape in which they were constructed. This is one of only very few
medieval fishpond sites known to survive on the Isle of Wight, and is part of
a wider complex of contemporary features associated with Quarr Abbey,
including mills, salt water fish ponds and monastic granges.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hockey, S F, Quarr Abbey and its Lands 1132-1631, (1970), 49
Hockey, S F, Quarr Abbey and its Lands 1132-1631, (1970), 50

Source: Historic England

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