Medieval fishpond complex 145m south east of Council Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016786

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval fishpond complex 145m south east of Council Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Jan-2019 at 21:53:44.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Welton

National Grid Reference: TF 00894 79563


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 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 Welton survives well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The waterlogged silts in the ponds and channels will preserve evidence of environmental remains such as seeds, pollen, and timber, providing information on the use of the ponds and the local environment. Where the ground has been artificially raised, deposits associated with land use prior to the construction of the complex will have been preserved.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval fishpond complex located 120m south of Norbeck Lane. Welton was a large settlement in the 11th century with six prebendal manors dating from soon after the Norman Conquest. The fishponds lie within a close, known as Dove Yard, which was part of the medieval prebendal manor of Westhall.

The monument takes the form of a series of roughly rectangular fishponds aligned north-south, now dry, bounded by parallel channels to the north and south, situated on the north side of a shallow east draining valley. The channel on the north side of the complex is cut into the natural slope and that on the south side is formed by a linear bank, or dam, at its southern edge to retain water. Both channels, approximately 110m in length, are broad, measuring 12m to 14m in width and up to 1m deep. They are thought to have served as fishponds as well as forming part of the water supply system.

The fishponds lying between the two channels are formed by a series of roughly parallel banks aligned north to south. At the western end of the complex two large banks are joined at the centre by a low ridge, forming two small ponds or holding tanks, each measuring approximately 10m in length and 0.75m deep, one with an opening to the south, the other opening to the north. To the east of the small ponds are two larger ponds, each measuring approximately 20m in length and 1m deep, one with an opening to the south, the other opening to the north. The narrow openings between the ponds and the channels suggest that the supply of water was controlled by a system of sluices.

To the east of the ponds and between the parallel channels there is a series of low scarps and hollows which are thought to have provided shallow spawning areas. The complex would formerly have been fed by water from the adjacent stream, flowing to the east.

All fences 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.


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

Legacy System number: 31636

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing