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Fishponds 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Kirkby Cross & Portland, Nottinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0973 / 53°5'50"N

Longitude: -1.2661 / 1°15'57"W

OS Eastings: 449241.414909

OS Northings: 355813.591327

OS Grid: SK492558

Mapcode National: GBR 7DB.YHR

Mapcode Global: WHDG4.JDBX

Entry Name: Fishponds 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020374

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29981

County: Nottinghamshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Kirkby Cross & Portland

Built-Up Area: Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Kirkby-in-Ashfield St Wilfrid

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and below ground remains of a series of
fishponds situated approximately 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church. The ponds
lie in the bottom of a small V-shaped valley and are fed by two springs which
drain into the River Erewash approximately 580m further south.
The fishponds survive as a series of four compartments which run in a line
along the valley bottom. The ponds have not been investigated in detail and
are difficult to date but it is thought they may be associated with the 14th
century Castle Hill fortified manor. The manor lies approximately 210m to the
west of the ponds and is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The ponds are aligned roughly north to south and survive to a depth of up to
2m. The southernmost pond is approximately 20m long and 15m wide and is dammed
at its western end by an earthen bank. The next pond to the north is the
longest measuring approximately 50m in length and 15m wide and is separated
from the southernmost pond by a stone revetted dam. The northern end of the
pond has been modified by the insertion of a large, modern drainage pipe over
which a trackway, linking the fields to the east and west of the ponds, has
been constructed. This has altered the layout of the pond in the immediate
area but has not affected the overall importance and archaeological potential
of the site.
The eastern bank of these two ponds also serves to separate the ponds from a
deep channel which runs the full length of the two ponds. Although the stream
now runs through the centre of the ponds it would appear that it originally
ran along the eastern edge of them and that the channel marks the line of an
earlier stream course. The channel may also have acted as an overflow leat to
control fluctuations in water flow and to prevent flooding.
Further to the north is a large sub-triangular shaped pond which is situated
at the confluence of the two streams. The pond is defined by banks on all
three sides and survives to a depth of up to 1.5m. Leading from the north
eastern corner of this pond is a narrow gully which probably acted as a supply
channel but also linked the pond to another one lying to the north east. The
fourth pond is marked on the current Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 map as an area
of water but is now dry and less clearly defined on the ground than the other
three. The area of the pond is marked by tall reed type vegetation which has
colonised the wet ground. An early 19th century map indicates that despite
some modifications to the ponds in relatively recent times the overall size
and layout have remained unaltered for at least the last two centuries.
All modern surfaces and field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath these is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 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
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 series of fishponds 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church at Kirkby in Ashfield
are a very well-preserved example of this type of monument in Nottinghamshire.
Important archaeological and environmental evidence will be preserved in the
basal silts of the ponds, channels and leats and within and beneath the banks.
The possible association of the ponds with the fortified manor enhances their
importance and taken as a whole the evidence goes some considerable way to
improving our understanding of the working of the ponds and the place they
held within the wider landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Title: Sanderson 1836
Source Date: 1836
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
Supplied by Notts SMR

Source: Historic England

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