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Medieval fishpond complex and associated features at North Kelsey Grange

A Scheduled Monument in North Kelsey, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4961 / 53°29'46"N

Longitude: -0.4284 / 0°25'42"W

OS Eastings: 504353.836101

OS Northings: 401086.292345

OS Grid: TA043010

Mapcode National: GBR TXG0.1G

Mapcode Global: WHGGW.DD74

Entry Name: Medieval fishpond complex and associated features at North Kelsey Grange

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020354

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31617

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: North Kelsey

Built-Up Area: North Kelsey

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: North Kelsey All Hallows

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

Details

The monument includes a medieval fishpond complex and associated features
located at North Kelsey Grange. The complex is believed to be associated with
a grange of the Gilbertine priory of North Ormsby which was established at
North Kelsey by the early 13th century. The grange, established over earlier
ridge and furrow, is thought to have lain on the site of the present farm
buildings and yards which were established in the early 19th century. The
grange and its lands remained in the hands of the priory until the Dissolution
of the Monasteries. In 1545 the grange was in the tenure of John Fenbye. No
archaeological remains are now evident in the area of the present farmhouse,
outbuildings and yards at North Kelsey Grange and this area is therefore not
included in the scheduling.

The fishpond complex lies to the west of the site of the grange with
enclosures lying to the north of it together with medieval ridge and furrow
cultivation, a hollow way, and a trackway known as `Grainge Lane'. The
fishponds and enclosures are believed to have been established on land granted
to the grange, specifically for the creation of enclosures or for cultivation,
during the 13th century.

The remains of the fishponds and associated water control features lie on the
floor of a shallow valley. The fishpond complex was supplied with water by a
stream flowing in from the east; the water channel follows a curving course
along the southern side of the ponds to join a trapezoidal pond at the western
end of the complex. The trapezoidal pond, measuring 65m by 50m, is surrounded
by banks, or dams, standing up to 1.5m high and includes a central island of
similar shape measuring 35m by 20m. The island includes a rectangular hollow
at the centre, connected to the pond via a narrow channel, and a mound at its
western end. The hollow is thought to represent a breeding tank and the
various levels on the island will have provided shallow spawning areas. Water
entered the larger pond at the south east corner with outlets provided at the
south west and north west corners. The outlet at the south western corner of
the pond leads directly into a rectangular embanked pond, measuring 20m in
length, thought to have been a holding or a sorting tank, which was also
provided with an outlet at the south west corner. The narrowness of the inlets
and outlets suggest that the water supply for the complex was controlled by a
system of sluices.

To the east of the trapezoidal fishpond is a shallow, roughly rectangular,
pond measuring approximately 75m in length, surrounded by banks and leats with
the water supply channel lying along its southern edge. To the east, banks and
leats surround another rectangular pond of similar size and a smaller shallow
area, which also lie on the north side of the water course. An embanked
channel following a course along the northern edge of the ponds and turning to
the south on the eastern side of the trapezoidal pond represents a bypass
leat.

A bank and ditch marks the southern extent of the fishpond complex. To the
east of the fishponds this boundary is linked to a bank and ditch thought to
be the southern boundary of the grange court which was constructed over
earlier medieval ridge and furrow cultivation.

Rectangular enclosures also overlie the earlier medieval ridge and furrow
cultivation to the north of the grange site, including low rectangular
earthwork building platforms thought to represent dwellings. A low bank marks
the northern limit of the ridge and furrow, and is interrupted by a hollow way
which overlies the cultivation and enclosures. Another area of ridge and
furrow lies immediately to the west of the fishpond complex. A former
trackway, `Grainge Lane', lies along the northern edge of the fishpond complex
and was still in use until the early 19th century.

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

MAP EXTRACT
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
flooding.
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
cleared.
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 North Kelsey Grange survives well as a series
of earthworks and buried deposits. The site has not been archaeologically
excavated 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 pond and 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.

The fishponds at North Kelsey Grange are associated with a monastic grange, or
farm, owned and run by a monastic community to provide food and raw materials
for consumption within the parent monastic house and also to provide surpluses
to sell for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century
but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. A
monastery might have more than one grange and granges could be established on
lands adjacent to the monastery or wherever the monastic site held lands. The
remains of the features associated with the grange, such as its closes, and
ridge and furrow cultivation will contribute to an understanding of the
relationship between contemporary components of the wider medieval landscape.
The establishment of the grange and associated features over earlier ridge and
furrow cultivation will provide evidence of land use prior to the construction
of the complex. As a result of survey and documentary research the
establishment and ownership history of the complex are quite well understood.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
NMR, 891904,
NMR, 891904, (1998)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
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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