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Ring Dam medieval fishpond

A Scheduled Monument in Ropsley and Humby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.892 / 52°53'31"N

Longitude: -0.5196 / 0°31'10"W

OS Eastings: 499692.393592

OS Northings: 333755.435082

OS Grid: SK996337

Mapcode National: GBR FRT.MFR

Mapcode Global: WHGKQ.ZKQR

Entry Name: Ring Dam medieval fishpond

Scheduled Date: 25 June 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019976

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33127

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Ropsley and Humby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Ropsley

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a medieval fishpond known as Ring Dam, located 350m
south east of Crown Hill Farm. A document of 1335 cites a covenant between
Robert de Kyrkton of Ropsley and Roger Rohaut, knight, claiming rights and
liberties in Ropsley and Humby and a fishery called Mickledam and Littledam,
believed to refer to Ring Dam.
The fishpond is subrectangular in plan, covering an area measuring some 75m by
65m. The pond originally took the form of a rectangular moat enclosing a large
central island, measuring about 45m in width with a fairly level surface. The
eastern, southern and western arms of the pond are still water-filled and
measure up to 6m in width and 1.5m deep; the northern arm, which was depicted
on early late 18th and 19th century maps, was infilled by 1843 and now
survives as a buried feature. Part of the southern and eastern arms of the
pond are defined by external banks, 6m in width, where the ground level slopes
down to the east. Water was supplied to the complex at the north western
corner; there are two outlets located on the eastern arm, the southernmost of
which is thought to be of modern origin. The pond remained in use during the
post-medieval period when it was known as the `Washdyke'. In modern times
water was channelled from the pond to a sheep dip to the north east. The sheep
dip is not included in the scheduling.
All fence posts and the pump at the north side of the pond are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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 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 known as Ring Dam survives well as a series of
earthworks and buried deposits. These features have been little altered since
medieval times, indicating that archaeological remains are likely to survive
intact. Waterlogging in the pond will preserve organic remains such as
timber, leather and seeds, which will provide valuable information about
domestic and economic activity on the site. In addition, the artificially
raised ground will preserve evidence of land use prior to construction of the
pond. Its use during the post-medieval period demonstrates its continued
economic importance and its value as a landscape feature.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Foster, C W, Longley, T, The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lincolnshire Survey, (1976)
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 124
Lane, TW, The archaeology and developing landscape of Ropsley and Humby, (1995), 30-43
Russell, R C, Russell, E, Parliamentary enclosure and new Lincolnshire landscapes, (1987), 146-147
Hazelwood, Mr , (1998)

Source: Historic England

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