Record Details

NHER Number:11114
Type of record:Monument
Name:Medieval fishponds


The Lay is a series of fishponds that are recorded in old documents dating back to 1307. Local legend suggests these were used by monks but it seems more likely that they were owned by the lord of the manor, the Bigot family.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TM 3044 8800
Map Sheet:TM38NW

Full description

The Lay.
An account written in the 35th year of the reign of Edward I (1307) refers to Hall dykes or fisheries, water mill and woods for the use of the family of Bigot, belonging to the Manor House; later disparked.
See (S1).
R. R. Clarke (NCM) suggested the fishery was the Lay.

July 1980. Visit.
R. R. Clarke is probably right, as (S2), the original in Park Farm [1] shows NHER 11676 as 'The Earls'. [2] states that a local legend claims that the pond was used by monks for fishing, the outer encircling ditch being allocated to common people. This confirms that this is the same as the site referred to in a 19th century press cutting in (S3) 'one of the ponds in Earsham Park is said to be surrounded by earthworks which are thought to be of monastic origin' (formerly numbered NHER 12411).

The Lay consists still of an outer waterfilled ditch surrounding an inner pond with a wooded bank in between, though the bank is broken through in places. (S4) showing it as one pond is incorrect. There is no evidence for monastic use, the legend probably originates in the ownership of the Earl's manor formerly part belonging to the Abbot of Bury, and later being joined with another manor owned by Castle Acre priory. The origin of the Lay is most probably as Bigot's fishponds as suggested.
E. Rose (NAU), 3 July 1980.

January 1983.
Note the use of the name The Ley for monastic fishponds at Redlingfield nunnery, Suffolk.
E. Rose (NAU), 21 January 1983.

October 2004.
The site retains the inner pond, with an outer water filled ditch separated by a wooded bank, broken in places to form small 'islands'. Much dead wood in water and on banks. A survey carried out by a group from Cambridge established a depth of 9m in the centre of the pond, this is not bottomed. A 17th century map of the estate shows The Lay as the outline of a round feature.
H. Paterson (A&E), 4 November 2004.

Monument Types

  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WATERMILL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TM3087 A,B,F-H,J-AB,AD-AF; TM3088 C.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Earsham.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805-1810. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Volume Unknown.
<S2>Map: Copy of Earsham Park Farm Map.
<S3>Archive: Bolingbroke Collection.
<S4>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1:2500.

Related records - none

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