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Medieval fishpond complex 145m south east of Council Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Welton, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.3034 / 53°18'12"N

Longitude: -0.4875 / 0°29'14"W

OS Eastings: 500890.596642

OS Northings: 379561.371408

OS Grid: TF008795

Mapcode National: GBR TZ17.8J

Mapcode Global: WHGHT.H73C

Entry Name: Medieval fishpond complex 145m south east of Council Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016786

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31636

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Welton

Built-Up Area: Welton

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Welton St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval fishpond
complex located 120m south of Norbeck Lane. Welton was a large settlement in
the 11th century with six prebendal manors dating from soon after the Norman
Conquest. The fishponds lie within a close, known as Dove Yard, which was part
of the medieval prebendal manor of Westhall.

The monument takes the form of a series of roughly rectangular fishponds
aligned north-south, now dry, bounded by parallel channels to the north and
south, situated on the north side of a shallow east draining valley. The
channel on the north side of the complex is cut into the natural slope and
that on the south side is formed by a linear bank, or dam, at its southern
edge to retain water. Both channels, approximately 110m in length, are broad,
measuring 12m to 14m in width and up to 1m deep. They are thought to have
served as fishponds as well as forming part of the water supply system.

The fishponds lying between the two channels are formed by a series of roughly
parallel banks aligned north to south. At the western end of the complex two
large banks are joined at the centre by a low ridge, forming two small ponds
or holding tanks, each measuring approximately 10m in length and 0.75m deep,
one with an opening to the south, the other opening to the north. To the east
of the small ponds are two larger ponds, each measuring approximately 20m in
length and 1m deep, one with an opening to the south, the other opening to the
north. The narrow openings between the ponds and the channels suggest that the
supply of water was controlled by a system of sluices.

To the east of the ponds and between the parallel channels there is a series
of low scarps and hollows which are thought to have provided shallow spawning
areas. The complex would formerly have been fed by water from the adjacent
stream, flowing to the east.

All fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them
is included.

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 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
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 medieval fishpond complex at Welton survives well as a series of
earthworks and buried deposits. The waterlogged silts in the ponds and
channels will preserve evidence of environmental remains such as seeds,
pollen, and timber, providing information on the use of the ponds and the
local environment. Where the ground has been artificially raised, deposits
associated with land use prior to the construction of the complex will have
been preserved.

Source: Historic England


RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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