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Fishponds, 200m south west of Townfoot Farm

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Fishponds, 200m south west of Townfoot Farm

List entry Number: 1008428

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Corsenside

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 23-May-1994

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 25045

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 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. 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 fishponds at Townfoot Farm are extremely well preserved and contain significant archaeological and organic deposits. There are few well preserved fishponds in Northumberland and this set is a valuable addition to their number.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the remains of a set of four fishponds of medieval date situated on the floor of the Rede valley. There are two main ponds, situated to the north of two smaller subsidiary ponds. The two main ponds, one rectangular and the other more irregular in shape have been dug into the ground and the resultant spoil of stone and earth cast up into banks on each side; the banks range in height from 0.8m to 2.5m. The ponds are divided by a substantial stone and earth bank 2m high and 10m wide which terminates in a sub-circular stone revetted platform, 9m in diameter and 1.4m high. This platform is thought to be the site of a building associated with the fishponds. South of the main fishponds there are two small subsidiary ponds orientated east-west; they are 10m-15m long and 12m and 18m wide respectively. These are interpreted as feeder or breeding ponds. Lying adjacent to the two smaller ponds and running into the main ponds from the south there is a narrow leat from which water would be channelled into the ponds. The fishponds are associated with the medieval grange of Hallyards, of which no surface trace survives but which was first recorded in documents in 1293. It is said to have been the family seat of the De Lisle family. The ponds have been truncated on their northern side by a modern road. The metal shed situated at the northern end of the monument is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Hodgson, J C, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume 2 part 1, (1827), 171-174
Other
NY 98 NW 04,

National Grid Reference: NY 90259 86743

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008428 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2017 at 01:21:21.

End of official listing