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Watermill (1540 to 1900 AD)

Quarr Abbey owned a watermill at Quarr at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The mill is now a site which can be identified by earthworks to the east of the present Abbey. It is only in 1535 that we have the first reference to a mill on the site of the abbey itself, to the east or southeast of the gatehouse, which will therefore be outside the enclosure.(1,2)

Fishponds (1066 – 1539 AD)

Fishponds associated with Quarr Abbey, aligned north-south with a common dam between them, and a leat entering at the junction between the ponds. [See also Binstead/Newnham Farm].

A pond was excavated just to the south of the abbey church inside the enclosure, visible today as marsh. Fish did not become general as monastic food until the end of the thirteenth century. If the Quarr ponds were excavated before that date, then we must assume that they were constructed to produce revenue.(3)

The second fishpond North of Newnham, the stream was by way of a dam diverted from its original course and made to flow at a higher level along a channel cut out of the western slope of the little valley. By the side of the high level stream was made the cart road down to Quarr. In the valley bed were excavated two fish ponds of considerable size into which water was fed from the upper stream through controlling sluices, while the excess ran off into the lower stream.(3)

Two fishponds associated with Quarr Abbey at Puckers Copse, Newham.
The following observations have been recorded and are given herewith.

Site visit by F. Basford and representatives of ADAS to discuss future management of the earthworks within the wooded area. The following were discussed:
1. Use of woodland as a ‘woodland management demonstration area’ for farmers and visiting groups. This would involve coppicing and regeneration of hazel.
2. Restore the earthworks and refill with water, stock with fish and hire to local fishing club.
3. Clear the site of all trees except mature oaks and alder, remove all scrub and maintain this situation, not allowing the regeneration of hazel and scrub.
Scrub clearance taking place under M.S.C. in and around the northern pond, in order that it may be restored and filled with water.(4)

Inspection of earthworks after scrub clearance to assess maintenance requirements.(5)

Restoration of northern pond was completed in 1988 and pond filled.(6)

South pond restored with English Heritage consent. Breach in dam dividing north and south pond repaired using soil from base of pond. Eastern leat re-cut and sluice inserted to control water level in south pond. Trees and vegetation removed from sides of south pond. Natural stream diverted to take water south of south pond into re-cut leat. Watching briefs carried out as required during soil moving operations. Artefactual remains completely absent. The natural sub-soil was observed after the removal of only 10-15 cm of humic soil in the bed of the pond. The leat at the east side of the south pond was cut deeper than the original profile.(7)

The monument includes two adjoining fishponds situated on an east facing slope and associated with the nearby monastery at Quarr. They are aligned north-south with a common dam between them, and a leat entering the junction between the ponds. Each fishpond has an earthwork bank enclosing a depression from which material was quarried during its construction. The northern pond, which is roughly rectangular in shape, still retains water. It is the smaller of the two and measurer c 80m north-south and c 42m east-west at its widest point. The southern pond, which is pear-shaped, is now dry. The pond measures c150m north-south at its maximum extent and c 95m east-west at its widest point. There are additional associated earthworks on the west side of the northern pond, and at the junction of the two ponds; a leat joins the ponds at a common point on their east side. The leat runs south parallel with the southern pond on its east side, and travels northwards to open into the east side of the precinct of the medieval abbey of Quarr. The leat was made in order to fill the higher northern pond, and then, by a series of sluices, the lower southern pond. A stone wall was discovered within the last ten years during digging at the junction of the two ponds on their west side.

Assessment of Importance.

The fishponds at Puckers Copse survive well and will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the fishponds and the landscape in which they were constructed. This is one of only very few medieval fishpond sites known to survive on the Isle of Wight, and is part of a wider complex of contemporary features associated with Quarr Abbey, including mills, salt water fish ponds and monastic granges.(8)

1. J K Major ‘The Mills of the Isle of Wight’ London: Charles Skilton (1970)
2. S F Hockey ‘Quarr Abbey and its Lands’ p.38-39 (1970)
3. S F Hockey ‘Quarr Abbey and its Lands’ p.49-50 Leicester University Press (1970)
4. F Basford, 20 August 1986 and site visit 16 Nov. 1987
5. David Tomalin, Frank Basford and Landowner. Site visit 23 February 1988
6. D L Motkin 2 August 1990
7. F Basford Watching brief June 1997
8. Entry in the Schedule of Monuments compilied and maintained by the Secretary of State for the Enviroment under section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended. National Monument No: 22035 Isle of Wight County Archaeology and Historic Environment Service

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:27

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