Fishponds 170m south of Damstead Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018119

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1998


Ordnance survey map of Fishponds 170m south of Damstead Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Jan-2019 at 11:44:31.


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

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Ashfield (District Authority)

Parish: Annesley

National Grid Reference: SK 49030 52846


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 Annesley are a well preserved example of this type of monument in Nottinghamshire. The size of the ponds and their water management system is unusual. Important environmental evidence will be preserved in the basal silts of the ponds and beneath the banks and dams. Taken as a whole the evidence will go some way to improving our understanding of the workings and management of the ponds and the place they held within the wider landscape.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and below ground remains of a series of fishponds situated approximately 170m south of Damstead Farm. The ponds lie in a natural valley through which runs Cuttail Brook. The fishponds are a series of three compartments which form a linear group. The ponds have not been excavated but are believed to belong to the medieval period, when they formed part of the Annesley Hall estate. The ponds are aligned south east to north west and increase in size from the south. The smallest measures approximately 40m long and 25m wide, the middle pond approximately 53m long and between 15m and 38m wide and the largest approximately 187m long and 50m wide. All three are dammed at their north western ends. The dams consist of earth and clay banks. Pipes have been inserted in parts of the dams to maintain the water flow through the ponds, and metal revetting and sand bags have been used to reinforce the banks of the dams. The dam to the north west of the largest pond is substantial, with a considerable drop in ground level to the north. The outlet channel for Cuttail Brook extends from the northern corner of this pond. Two of the ponds retain water throughout the year; the smallest is very boggy and has a small amount of surface water during the wettest months of the year. The ponds are fed by Cuttail Brook and by springs which surface on the slopes to the north and south of the ponds before draining into them. Although the ponds take advantage of the natural lie of the land, their shape and size may have been manually enhanced. Banks around the edge of the ponds indicate that a level of enhancement or maintenance has taken place in the past. All modern fences, metal revetting, sandbags, buildings and fishing platforms are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 29925

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing