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Medieval fishponds 380m south east of Nursery Lodge

A Scheduled Monument in Caistor, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.4959 / 53°29'45"N

Longitude: -0.3301 / 0°19'48"W

OS Eastings: 510872.544929

OS Northings: 401205.010892

OS Grid: TA108012

Mapcode National: GBR VX40.BK

Mapcode Global: WHGGX.WDZB

Entry Name: Medieval fishponds 380m south east of Nursery Lodge

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016964

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31621

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Caistor

Built-Up Area: Caistor

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Caistor with Clixby

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of a fishpond complex believed to be
medieval in origin. The series of fishponds, leats, and dams cover an area
measuring 110m by 90m situated to the north of Navigation Lane. The ponds and
leats are now dry.

At the southern end of the complex there are two roughly rectangular ponds,
aligned east-west, each measuring 40m in length and enclosed by banks up to 1m
in height. Both ponds become narrower and shallower toward the east, and are
provided with narrow inlets and outlets enabling the water supply to the ponds
to be controlled by sluices. The southernmost pond has an inlet on the
southern side, with an outlet at the north western corner feeding into the
second rectangular pond, which in turn is provided with an outlet at its north
west corner feeding into another, larger, pond. The two rectangular ponds are
separated by a broad bank which contains a smaller rectangular pond measuring
18m by 8m, thought to represent a fish-breeding or sorting tank.

The large pond in the north western part of the complex is irregular in
shape, measuring 50m in width. It includes a roughly circular island some 8m
across which would have been associated with fishing activities. Banks of
varying height on the eastern side of this pond are cut by narrow channels
which controlled the water supply. The variety of depths in the ponds will
have provided shallow spawning areas.

Water was formerly supplied to the complex from an adjacent stream, flowing
westward, with outlets provided via a leat which leads back toward the stream,
at the north western corner of the complex, and through an outlet in the
western bank which would have allowed water to discharge to a low lying area
on the western side of the complex. This would allow silts in the water to
settle before the water drained back to the stream.

All fences, horse jumps and telegraph poles 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 fishponds 380m south east of Nursery Lodge survive well as a
series of earthworks and buried deposits. The site has had only limited
disturbance with no archaeological excavation, and medieval deposits will
therefore survive relatively intact. The waterlogged silts in the ponds and
channels will preserve evidence of environmental remains such as seeds,
pollen, or timber, providing information on the use of the ponds and about the
local environment. Where the ground has been artifically raised deposits
associated with the land use prior to the construction of the fishpond complex
will have been preserved. Detailed archaeological survey has enhanced our
understanding of the fishpond complex.

Source: Historic England


NMR, 892574, (1998)
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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