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Fishpond at West Ringstead, 590m south of Pit House

A Scheduled Monument in Owermoigne, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6323 / 50°37'56"N

Longitude: -2.3535 / 2°21'12"W

OS Eastings: 375091.694165

OS Northings: 81459.937213

OS Grid: SY750814

Mapcode National: GBR 10L.CSK

Mapcode Global: FRA 57YD.JXC

Entry Name: Fishpond at West Ringstead, 590m south of Pit House

Scheduled Date: 25 November 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016724

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29094

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Owermoigne

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Osmington with Poxwell St Osmond

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes a fishpond situated on gently sloping ground, south of
the South Dorset Ridge, overlooking Weymouth Bay to the south.
The fishpond, which no longer contains water, is south east of the medieval
settlement remains at West Ringstead which are the subject of a separate
scheduling. It also lies to the south of the settlement's associated field
system which is well preserved on the southern slopes of the South Dorset
Ridge.
The pond survives as a depression about 0.5m deep and 28m in diameter. An
associated gully to the north, is visible as an earthwork about 0.4m deep,
with maximum dimensions of 2m in width and 10m in length. The gully leads to
the pond from the sloping ground to the north from where it is likely to have
channelled spring water.
All fence posts and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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
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 as a food source and for
status 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.

Although no longer containing water, the fishpond 590m south of Pit House
survives well within an area subject to some waterlogging. It will contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and
the landscape in which it was constructed. This will also compliment the
archaeological evidence associated with the medieval settlement remains
situated to the north west and its associated field system to the north.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
MPP site photo,

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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