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Three fishponds at Winslade

A Scheduled Monument in Buckland Brewer, Devon

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Latitude: 50.9476 / 50°56'51"N

Longitude: -4.3046 / 4°18'16"W

OS Eastings: 238203.2082

OS Northings: 118992.0753

OS Grid: SS382189

Mapcode National: GBR KD.NPB0

Mapcode Global: FRA 16WL.SYX

Entry Name: Three fishponds at Winslade

Scheduled Date: 29 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017979

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30341

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Buckland Brewer

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Putford St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes three fishponds which are contained in three separate
areas concentrated around the farm of Winslade, which has medieval origins.
The three fishponds survive as earthworks, each one preserved as a rectangular
pond surrounding a central island. All have strongly built outer banks and
the two larger ponds have a revetted long side built into the natural
hillslope. They all differ in size, the largest lies to the north west of the
farm and the smallest to the south east. The largest pond also shows evidence
of banks surrounding the perimeter of the island, and one bisecting it from
north to south.
The northernmost pond is aligned from east to west, measures 42m long by
31.5m wide and is 0.6m deep. To the west, east and south the pond is defined
by major earthen banks. These attain basal widths of up to 6.7m, tapering
to 2.2m wide on the tops and stand up to 1.2m high. These enclosing banks
underlie the field boundaries to the south and east. There are breaks in the
outer banks at the north west and south western corners. In the south eastern
corner another break in the bank leads into a leat which flows downslope
beside the field boundary and measures up to 1m wide and 1.2m deep. The
central island measures 23.2m long and 12.7m wide and is up to 1.8m high.
The second fishpond lies to the south east of the first and is aligned
approximately east to west. It measures 30.7m long, 13m wide and is 0.5m deep.
The pond is defined by banks to the west, south and east which measure up to
5m wide at the base, tapering to 2.6m wide at the tops and are up to 1.4m
high. The central island measures 24.5m long, 4.8m wide and 1.6m high. On the
southern and eastern sides the outer banks underlie the field boundaries.
The third fishpond lies to the south east of the second. It is aligned
north west to south east. The pond measures 17.2m long, 12.2m wide and is 0.2m
deep. It is enclosed by banks on all four sides which measure up to 2.8m wide
and 0.5m high. The central island measures 7.4m long, 2.4m wide and 1.2m

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
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 three fishponds at Winslade survive well and are relatively rare in
Devon. This well preserved group lie in close association with a documented
medieval settlement.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS31NE16, (1972)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS31NE16, (1990)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, Gerrard, H., (1997)

Source: Historic England

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