Medieval fishponds 380m south east of Nursery Lodge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016964

Date first listed: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval fishponds 380m south east of Nursery Lodge
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This copy shows the entry on 24-Jan-2019 at 02:08:48.


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

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Caistor

National Grid Reference: TA 10880 01205


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 fishponds 380m south east of Nursery Lodge survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The site has had only limited disturbance with no archaeological excavation, 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 ponds and about 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. Detailed archaeological survey has enhanced our understanding of the fishpond complex.


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


The monument includes the remains of a fishpond complex believed to be medieval in origin. The series of fishponds, leats, and dams cover an area measuring 110m by 90m situated to the north of Navigation Lane. The ponds and leats are now dry.

At the southern end of the complex there are two roughly rectangular ponds, aligned east-west, each measuring 40m in length and enclosed by banks up to 1m in height. Both ponds become narrower and shallower toward the east, and are provided with narrow inlets and outlets enabling the water supply to the ponds to be controlled by sluices. The southernmost pond has an inlet on the southern side, with an outlet at the north western corner feeding into the second rectangular pond, which in turn is provided with an outlet at its north west corner feeding into another, larger, pond. The two rectangular ponds are separated by a broad bank which contains a smaller rectangular pond measuring 18m by 8m, thought to represent a fish-breeding or sorting tank.

The large pond in the north western part of the complex is irregular in shape, measuring 50m in width. It includes a roughly circular island some 8m across which would have been associated with fishing activities. Banks of varying height on the eastern side of this pond are cut by narrow channels which controlled the water supply. The variety of depths in the ponds will have provided shallow spawning areas.

Water was formerly supplied to the complex from an adjacent stream, flowing westward, with outlets provided via a leat which leads back toward the stream, at the north western corner of the complex, and through an outlet in the western bank which would have allowed water to discharge to a low lying area on the western side of the complex. This would allow silts in the water to settle before the water drained back to the stream.

All fences, horse jumps and telegraph poles 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: 31621

Legacy System: RSM


NMR, 892574, (1998)
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