Ponds SW of Wootton Bridge
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005728
Date first listed: 18-May-1976
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This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 10:36:27.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)
Parish: Wootton Wawen
National Grid Reference: SP 15202 63006
Two fishponds 335m WNW of Field Farm.
Reasons for Designation
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. Fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy. Icehouses are subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice, usually removed in winter from ponds and used in the summer for preserving food and cooling drinks. Thousands of icehouses have been built in England since the early 17th century. These were initially built only by the upper level of society, but by the end of the 18th century they were commonplace. They continued to be built throughout the 19th century, when huge examples were established by the fishing industry, as well as for use in towns. Icehouses only became obsolete after the introduction of domestic refrigerators in the early 20th century. Despite some scrub growth on the dam banks the two fishponds 335m WNW of Field Farm survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, longevity, function, possible adaptive re-use, date, fishery and ice production use and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 June 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.
This monument includes two fishponds situated on the northern bank and floodplain of the River Alne. The fishponds survive as a series of interconnected banks or dams and channels forming two roughly rectangular enclosed areas of level ground where the ponds used to be. The banks survive differentially and measure up to a maximum height of 6m. A mound of up to 4.6m high with a possible doorway at the base has been interpreted as an icehouse, connected with the storage of fish or perhaps to enable the ponds to be additionally used to create ice for more general ‘refrigeration’ purposes. Some sources suggest the ponds were originally connected with the early medieval alien priory to the north (and the subject of a separate scheduling) whilst others view them as part of a complex water meadow and still more view the ponds as entirely ornamental features. The fishponds are apparently associated with water control, water meadows and drainage or irrigation systems for which partial earthworks remain. The ponds are mentioned in a 16th century terrier which refers to ‘Mr Smythe’s sluice gate pit’ and a similar document in 1637 mentions the ‘flood gate pit’, the larger pond is shown in use on the 1840 tithe map.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WA 176
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Warwickshire HER 1598 and 6011
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing