Medieval fishpond complex, 80m south west of Manor House
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Kesteven (District Authority)
- Walcot Near Folkingham
- National Grid Reference:
- TF 05875 35064
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
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
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 remains of the fishpond complex 80m south west of Manor House at Walcot survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The pond has not been archaeologically excavated and deposits of both medieval and post- medieval periods will therefore survive intact. The waterlogged deposits in the fishpond and channel will preserve evidence of environmental remains (such as seeds, pollen, or timber) providing information on the use of the pond and the local environment. Associated with the site of a possible manorial centre, it contributes to an understanding of the relationship of contemporary components of the wider medieval landscape. The reuse of the fishpond complex in the post-medieval and modern periods for ornamental use and recreational fishing demonstrates its continued importance as a feature of the landscape.
The monument includes the remains of a medieval fishpond complex 80m south
west of Manor House on the west side of the village of Walcot. The remains
include a fishpond which would have provided fish and wildfowl and associated
water supply features, and are believed to have originated in the medieval
period and are associated with the manor house.
The monument is situated on a gentle south-facing slope in a slight hollow in undulating terrain covering an area measuring approximately 120m by 55m. The fishpond, still water-filled, measures 55m in length and is roughly rectangular in shape at the northern end, measuring 25m across; the southern portion of the pond broadens out to become roughly semicircular in plan, measuring up to 50m across. The pond curves outward at the south eastern corner where a stone-lined base provides a gently sloping ramp into the water. The pond is clay-lined and deepest (at least 3m) at the south western corner. The fishpond includes a narrow rectangular island, measuring 30m by 6m, situated towards the northern end of the pond, which is believed to relate to fishing activities or wildfowl management, and may have provided shallow spawning areas.
At its northern end the pond is supplied with water via a channel, measuring 8m across at the inlet. To the north the channel turns sharply to the west and narrows before broadening out again, measuring up to 10m across and extending for a distance of some 60m north of the pond. The channel lies upslope from the pond with the base of its northern end lying at a notably higher level than the pond implying that a sluice would have been necessary to regulate the water level in the pond. The narrowing and angle of the supply channel, where it feeds into the pond, suggests an arrangement of dams or sluices may have been in place here.
At the eastern edge of the pond are the remains of a post-medieval brick-lined drain which may lead from the Manor House or surrounding buildings. A modern land drain and narrow channels also feed into the pond whilst at the southern end of the pond there is an oulet pipe.
Walcot belonged to the manor of Folkingham which was granted to Gilbert de Gant following the Norman Conquest and was held by his descendents until the late 13th century; it was then variously held by the Crown or the de Beaumont family. The manor of Folkingham subsequently passed to Sir Gilbert Heathcote, and in the mid-19th century Heathcote owned the manor house at Walcot and the surrounding land, including the fishpond. The remains include a fishpond which would have provided fish and wildfowl and associated water supply features, and are believed to have originated in the medieval period associated with the manor house.
Although the fishpond complex is considered to be medieval in origin, it has continued in use and has been used in the post-medieval period as a source of water for stock and by a local wheelwright for immersing cartwheels.
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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 181-186
Trollope, E, Sleaford, Flaxwell, and Aswardhurn, (1872), 505-508
Knight, Mr , (1998)
NMR 892618, (1997)
Title: Walcot Tithe Award Source Date: 1841 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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