Ring Dam medieval fishpond


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Ring Dam medieval fishpond
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Ropsley and Humby
National Grid Reference:
SK 99690 33756

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 known as Ring Dam survives well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. These features have been little altered since medieval times, indicating that archaeological remains are likely to survive intact. Waterlogging in the pond will preserve organic remains such as timber, leather and seeds, which will provide valuable information about domestic and economic activity on the site. In addition, the artificially raised ground will preserve evidence of land use prior to construction of the pond. Its use during the post-medieval period demonstrates its continued economic importance and its value as a landscape feature.


The monument includes a medieval fishpond known as Ring Dam, located 350m south east of Crown Hill Farm. A document of 1335 cites a covenant between Robert de Kyrkton of Ropsley and Roger Rohaut, knight, claiming rights and liberties in Ropsley and Humby and a fishery called Mickledam and Littledam, believed to refer to Ring Dam. The fishpond is subrectangular in plan, covering an area measuring some 75m by 65m. The pond originally took the form of a rectangular moat enclosing a large central island, measuring about 45m in width with a fairly level surface. The eastern, southern and western arms of the pond are still water-filled and measure up to 6m in width and 1.5m deep; the northern arm, which was depicted on early late 18th and 19th century maps, was infilled by 1843 and now survives as a buried feature. Part of the southern and eastern arms of the pond are defined by external banks, 6m in width, where the ground level slopes down to the east. Water was supplied to the complex at the north western corner; there are two outlets located on the eastern arm, the southernmost of which is thought to be of modern origin. The pond remained in use during the post-medieval period when it was known as the `Washdyke'. In modern times water was channelled from the pond to a sheep dip to the north east. The sheep dip is not included in the scheduling. All fence posts and the pump at the north side of the pond 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. 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
Foster, C W, Longley, T, The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lincolnshire Survey, (1976)
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 124
Lane, TW, The archaeology and developing landscape of Ropsley and Humby, (1995), 30-43
Russell, R C, Russell, E, Parliamentary enclosure and new Lincolnshire landscapes, (1987), 146-147
Hazelwood, Mr , (1998)


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

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