Fishponds 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020374

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Fishponds 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 09:58:16.


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

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Ashfield (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SK 49247 55772


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 series of fishponds 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church at Kirkby in Ashfield are a very well-preserved example of this type of monument in Nottinghamshire. Important archaeological and environmental evidence will be preserved in the basal silts of the ponds, channels and leats and within and beneath the banks. The possible association of the ponds with the fortified manor enhances their importance and taken as a whole the evidence goes some considerable way to improving our understanding of the working 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 220m east of St Wilfrid's Church. The ponds lie in the bottom of a small V-shaped valley and are fed by two springs which drain into the River Erewash approximately 580m further south. The fishponds survive as a series of four compartments which run in a line along the valley bottom. The ponds have not been investigated in detail and are difficult to date but it is thought they may be associated with the 14th century Castle Hill fortified manor. The manor lies approximately 210m to the west of the ponds and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The ponds are aligned roughly north to south and survive to a depth of up to 2m. The southernmost pond is approximately 20m long and 15m wide and is dammed at its western end by an earthen bank. The next pond to the north is the longest measuring approximately 50m in length and 15m wide and is separated from the southernmost pond by a stone revetted dam. The northern end of the pond has been modified by the insertion of a large, modern drainage pipe over which a trackway, linking the fields to the east and west of the ponds, has been constructed. This has altered the layout of the pond in the immediate area but has not affected the overall importance and archaeological potential of the site. The eastern bank of these two ponds also serves to separate the ponds from a deep channel which runs the full length of the two ponds. Although the stream now runs through the centre of the ponds it would appear that it originally ran along the eastern edge of them and that the channel marks the line of an earlier stream course. The channel may also have acted as an overflow leat to control fluctuations in water flow and to prevent flooding. Further to the north is a large sub-triangular shaped pond which is situated at the confluence of the two streams. The pond is defined by banks on all three sides and survives to a depth of up to 1.5m. Leading from the north eastern corner of this pond is a narrow gully which probably acted as a supply channel but also linked the pond to another one lying to the north east. The fourth pond is marked on the current Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 map as an area of water but is now dry and less clearly defined on the ground than the other three. The area of the pond is marked by tall reed type vegetation which has colonised the wet ground. An early 19th century map indicates that despite some modifications to the ponds in relatively recent times the overall size and layout have remained unaltered for at least the last two centuries. All modern surfaces and field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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: 29981

Legacy System: RSM


Title: Sanderson 1836 Source Date: 1836 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Supplied by Notts SMR

End of official listing