Medieval water features



Fishponds were an important part of the Buckinghamshire landscape, and many still survive though most no longer hold water, or fish! Medieval law decreed that certain days were fish days and no meat from land animals could be eaten on those days. Do some research on the Internet to find out which days were fish days. Circle the correct days:


Monday        Tuesday        Wednesday        Thursday        Friday        Saturday         Sunday


There were also times of the year, such as Lent and Advent, when meat couldn’t be eaten either. Most people had to eat stockfish, salted dried fish that lasted a long time, but had to be crushed and beaten before it could be used because it was so hard. If you were well-off you would have fishponds dug on your land to keep fresh fish for use year round.


Fishpond at Grange Farm, QuaintonDo a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal for all the fishponds in the county. Mark them on the map of medieval fishponds attached to this page.


The fishponds at Grange Farm, Shipton Lee, Quainton are very well preserved. Find them on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal. Look at the plan of the fishponds your teacher gives you. Can you work out how the fishponds were used?


Fishponds were made by damming a stream and were often long and narrow. They were usually lined with clay or timber. A sluice at one end would allow the excess water to escape. At least once a year the ponds had to be drained and cleaned. Fishponds are often found together, attached by sluices or leats. Each pond would contain fish of different ages and only the adult fish would be eaten.


These fishponds are on Grange Farm. Granges were farms attached to monasteries. Which monastery was Grange Farm, Quainton attached to? How many other fishponds are on granges?


Grange                                          Fishpond



There were other ponds for watering cattle and sheep around in the medieval period too.



Moat at Grove Farm, Ashley GreenThere are lots of moats in Buckinghamshire. Traditionally it is thought that moats surrounded manor houses. However, if you do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal for moats and manor houses, you will see not every moat had a manor house inside it. Write five that do and five that don’t here:

Moats without manor houses:




Moats with manor houses:




Many of the moats associated with manor houses will also have fishponds nearby. Look at the maps of fishponds and moats. Write here any fishponds that are close to moats:

Fishpond                                         Moat




How closely do the distributions match up? Are fishponds always associated with moats? Or are they mainly in a different place?


Can you think of any other functions of moats except as a defensive feature around a house? Write your ideas here:




Go back to find more Changes in the landscape.