“Why are there so many ponds, why were they built, why are they in every village I see, what is their purpose and what is their way of fitting into the modern world?” – a citizen who wished to only be known as Alex.

What is a pond?

Ponds are area of still water typically smaller (ranging from one square meter to twenty thousand square meters) than lakes and are usually artificial. They could be in gardens, village greens and field corners.


For centuries ponds have been used in Great Britain and no one is sure exactly when the first manmade ponds came about however some of the earliest ponds were made in the neolithic era around neolithic enclosures like the dried-up dew pond at Chanctonbury Ring.


Historically ponds have been associated with livestock and agriculture with the dried-up dew pond at Chanctonbury Ring being thought to have been built in order for cattle to safely drink water without having to go to a stream or river and potential wild animal attacks.

Some of the other reasons include a water source to wash off livestock/ travellers’ horses, as a source for fishing, as a general water source (for villages lacking a working well) for drinking/ washing or even as a water source for early industrial processes and other machines.

More recently WW2 bomb craters were simply made into ponds, they have ornamental purposes and others were specifically made for wildlife preservation with more being repurposed for this purpose.


Village ponds are still prominent in many parts of the UK like the pond in the picture.

Currently there are around 500,000 ponds in Great Britain with around 3,000,000 garden ponds but a hundred years ago there used to be roughly double this number with now 1 in 5 ponds are thought to be in poor condition.

This is because as water became available at the turn of a tap, these ponds were neglected and some completely forgotten. So they slowly filled with sediment and invasive plant life (like the New Zealand pygmyweed) and slowly were choked out.

This presents an environmental challenge as these ponds that used to be unpolluted supported a whole host of wildlife, ranging from fish, that arrived through eggs that were carried on the fur/feathers of animals from another pond, to amphibians. Everyone has seen the newts and accompanying frogs in ponds, as well as insects, dozens of dragonflies, mayflies and other inhabitants.

This makes the UK pond a dying habitat and why there are many ponds devoted solely to wildlife.