Ancient Monuments

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Moated site, fishponds and decoy pond 490m north west of Park Spring Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Caunton, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.1176 / 53°7'3"N

Longitude: -0.9168 / 0°55'0"W

OS Eastings: 472593.802696

OS Northings: 358370.289872

OS Grid: SK725583

Mapcode National: GBR BJL.H20

Mapcode Global: WHFH7.WWLW

Entry Name: Moated site, fishponds and decoy pond 490m north west of Park Spring Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018120

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29926

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Caunton

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Winkburn

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a moated site,
fishponds and duck decoy situated adjacent to a trackway in Park Spring Wood.
The site forms part of Winkburn Hall estate which, in its current form, dates
to the late 17th century. An estate map of 1766 clearly shows a wood on the
site of Park Spring Wood. It is possible, however, that the monument dates
from the medieval period when the land was held by the Knights Hospitallers.
The monument survives as a series of earthworks which include a roughly square
shaped island measuring approximately 16m by 16m which is slightly domed in
profile. The island is surrounded by a moat which is approximately 8m wide and
up to 2m deep. This is currently very boggy with small areas of standing
water. On the south eastern bank is a small semi-circular platform which
protrudes into the moat approximately 0.5m above the current bottom of the
ditch. A pipe approximately 4.5m wide extends from the northern corner of the
moat. This narrows and shallows out at its northern end but has been truncated
by a woodland boundary ditch and a trackway. This is interpreted as a pipe
along which ducks would be enticed before being captured in nets.
The moat is surrounded by a bank on all sides. This is approximately 12m wide
although the north eastern arm is more difficult to determine because of the
cutting of the forest boundary ditch and the modern trackway. Cut into the
bank on the south western side are a series of three roughly rectangular
compartments, each measuring approximately 12m long and 6m wide. These lie
parallel to each other and at right angles to the main ditch of the moat and
are interpreted as ponds. Each of the ponds open into the main ditch but
evidence of a low bank across the opening of two of the ponds suggest these
were separated to some degree from the main moat. The central pond narrows
before opening into the moat via a short channel.
On the south east and north west sides a dry gully approximately 0.5m wide is
evident outside the bank. It is possible that this surrounded the whole
complex but a drainage ditch, which currently holds running water, has been
cut on the south west side and the woodland boundary ditch obscures the
evidence on the north eastern side.
The whole complex is interpreted as a moated site with associated fishponds.
It probably functioned as a fish farm, wildfowl refuge and duck decoy site.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Fishponds were constructed largely by the wealthy sectors of society with
monastic institutions and royal residences often having large and complex
examples. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began
during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to
provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. The difficulties in
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.
Decoy ponds are artificially created or modified pools of water onto which
wildfowl were lured to be trapped and killed for food and feathers. The
tradition of constructing such ponds appears to have begun in the medieval
period with the simplest designs indicating an early date but the more
familiar decoy pond is said to have been introduced into England in the 17th
This is a very well preserved and rare example of this type of monument in
Nottinghamshire. The size and complexity of the moated site, ponds, duck decoy
and water management system is unusual. Important archaeological and
environmental evidence will be preserved in the deep basal silts of the moat,
the ponds, the gullies and beneath the surrounding banks. Taken as a whole the
remains will go some way to improving our understanding of the workings and
management of the site and the place it held within the wider landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire, (1910), 142-144
Dennison, E, MPP Single Monument Class Description Decoy Ponds, (1988)
Title: The Parish and Lordship of Winkbourn belonging to Darcy Burnell
Source Date: 1766
Isaac Messeder

Source: Historic England

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