Pounds and Pinfolds

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These are article written during the ongoing research into the history and use of Pounds and Pinfolds. If you wish to include further research here please contact the editor.

Paper 1) Pounds and Pinfolds in Cumbria. Research undertaken and sponsored by Friends of the Lake District.

Paper 2) A paper written and presented to the Lorton and Derwent Fells LHS as part of their project in the use of Manorial Records in local histrory research.

Paper 1:
Pounds and Pinfolds in Cumbria

1.1 Reason for ProjectA small circular walled enclosure stands on White Moss Common in the hamlet of Field Broughton which is 2 miles north of Cartmel in the south of Cumbria. I was part of the local sub group of the Parish Council that was formed to raise funds for necessary repairs to be carried out and during this time I became interested in the history of the Field Broughton pound.  Recent records of repairs and maintenance to the pound were readily found but I could not immediately trace any specific or general history of why and when pounds were built. An enquiry to a Lake District National Park (LDNP) officer revealed that at least 3 other pounds were in existence in Cumbria and this sparked the purpose of this survey which is to locate, photograph and research the Pounds and Pinfolds in Cumbria.The idea of locating all other pounds or pinfolds in Cumbria and in so doing raise awareness of them and possibly encourage their maintenance for the future was borne.    

  1.3 Methodology.
I could trace no published work that centred on the purpose and history of pounds and pinfolds but references to them in various books and web sites were found and noted. To identify existing sites in Cumbria I am grateful to the following sources:Staff and library at FLD offices,
Cumbria Association of Local Councils
Andy Goldsworthy’s Sheepfolds web site
LDNP Officers
Kendal & Lancaster Public Libraries
Friends and relations.
pin fold a pound for the enclosure for animals. Other words and spellings that have been used prior to the modern use of pound and pinfold include pin fowld, pundfald  poundfold and pin field.  The person who looked after the pound or pinfold was known as a pinder or pinner. It should be noted that the sheepfold, although similar in structure, was built for a different purpose and should not be confused with a pinfold or pound. Sheepfolds were and are used to provide shelter and for use by the shepherd in the management of the sheep flocks. They are usually on the fells away from the villages. However there are some pinfolds in places where you would normally find a sheepfold.  For the purposes of this study I have excluded structures shown on maps as a sheepfold.   

  2.3 Purpose.The pound was used to “impound” stray animals that had been found feeding on a neighbours field or on the common without “common rights”. Animals that had strayed could be impounded in the pinfold until a fee had been paid to the pinder, an employee of the Lord of the Manor, for their release.       The outcome of the legal action of “distress” where a tenant may have fallen into arrears with his rent might also result in the impounding of his animals, for many had little else of value. The animals would be kept until the monies were paid, or after a period of notice, the animals sold to clear outstanding debt.The term pinfold was also used to describe the penning of sheep in a fold on the open fell at the end of the agreed period of summer grazing (agistment) prior to their movement back to the valley fields for wintering. An example can be found on Stockdale Moor and is shown on the OS map as a Mountain Pinfold, grid reference NY 090 090.  The term pinfold was also applied to the enclosure used to safeguard sheep and cattle from local river flooding at Pinfold Hill, Crosthwaite. This pinfold is now in poor condition but was originally a hedged enclosure with walling at its base and centred around an outcrop of rock in the Winster Valley.2.4 Common Features.These pounds were functional working buildings and tended to be on level sites, freestanding and circular (Winton) or rectangular (Edenhall) in shape. Exceptions to this abound in the Cumbrian examples where some are against field walls (Crook) and others built on a slope (Outgate).The location site of the pound was influenced by several factors although not all pounds and pinfolds conformed to this. For practical reasons most had running water nearby (Brigham) or were built next to a well (Penruddock) so that animals could be watered with minimum effort. If next to a stream some had drainage holes in the base of a wall. They were often built on common land (Field Broughton), near parish boundaries (Crook) or on the edge of the fell (Loweswater) in other words places where stray animals were most likely to be found.           In some parts of the country pounds used for “distress” purposes were often located near the Manor House, stocks or the lock up but this does not appear to be the case in Cumbria.  In only one place in Cumbria have I found the site of a pound near the administrative Manor House. This was at Great Asby but unfortunately the pound had been demolished for new housing about 2 years ago.   

   2.6 Condition.As it is several hundred years since Cumbrian pounds and pinfolds were used for their original purpose they are in varying states of repair. This survey includes both the sites where there still remains a discernable built structure and a small number of sites where there is minimal or no remains of the original pound or pinfold.  


Nigel Mills

1. Introduction 


  1.2 Scope of Project.
The project intention was to identify the location of the pounds and pinfolds that still existed in Cumbria, to visit and photograph them and to research the general purpose and history of these ancient structures.In the initial stages of the project washfolds and significant sheepfolds were also included but it became increasingly obvious that in view of the number of pounds and pinfolds that I was discovering I needed to focus on them specifically and exclude washfolds and sheepfolds. (These could be the subject of a later project, especially washfolds, which are the more interesting historically but fewer in number, Melmerby being an interesting example). 

Listed Building Register
Parish Council Clerks and members
Cumbria Archaeologist and the Sites & Monuments Records
Records Office at Kendal and Whitehaven
Field Broughton Historical Society

The initial methodology involved identifying possible sites from whichever source, checking current and old maps for any mention or notation and then visiting, finding and photographing the buildings. Finding the pound or pinfold was often the most difficult and was frequently at first un-successful as even local people were not aware of its presence in their village!
The condition and appearance of the structure, once found, was sometimes a surprise. One pinfold turned out to be nothing more than a large stone (Brampton) and another so overgrown that it took an hour to find (Bassenthwaite).     

2. Pounds and Pinfolds.
2.1 Pound or Pinfold?In this report I have used either pound or pinfold to describe the site or structure based on the oral or written evidence I have found. For example Field Broughton has a pound because it is shown on old maps as a pound and is also referred to locally as a pound. On the other hand Kirkby Thore and Crook have similar structures but both are known locally and shown on the maps as pinfolds. 
The reason these buildings became known as either a pound or pinfold may be historical and linked to their original purpose as a structure where impounded (pound) animals were kept or a pen where strays were folded (pinfold). This argument holds when the pound is located in a village or near a manor or local courthouse, as it often is, but there are many instances where this theory is not proven. It is more likely that whether it became a pound or pinfold was due to the local preference and was therefore picked up by the early surveyors and then fell into common usage.   

The derivation of both pound and pinfold shows a similarity of meaning. Chambers dictionary gives pownd as an enclosure in which to confine animals and a pinfold as a

   2.2 History. Pounds and pinfolds have existed since the 12th century and would have been in common use possibly as late as the mid 19th  century when the commons or “wastes” were enclosed and the need to impound stray animals diminished. Almost every township would have had a pound, and even in the early 20th century they would have been a common sight, though not in use, on the village green or at the edge of the common or fell land.  Within the scope and timescale of this project I have been able to find out only a limited amount of the general history of the purpose of pounds and pinfolds and this is summarised below. For each site found I have made enquiries from various sources including, the source of my information, the land owner, the parish council, the local history society and local people as appropriate. For a number of pounds and pinfolds there are limited parish council records, and  occasionally some local knowledge, that goes back many years but usually only refer  to the attempts by the council to have the pound repaired or sold and to have the rubbish removed from it!    There is a possibility that records or at least references to pounds, pinfolds, poundfolds or pin fields will exist in the various Manorial Records, Manor Court records and Enclosure Awards for Cumbria.  I intend to pursue this line of research at a later date. It is interesting to note how the word pound and pinfold is still so often to be found in our towns and cities in the guise of Pinfold Cottage or Pound Lane perhaps in recognition of their past relevance to our way of life. Having said that, I noticed that the pinfold at Great Strickland is in the front garden of a smart modern house named……Sycamore House!  






 2.5 Construction.The very early pounds and pinfolds would have been wooden structures consisting of woven fencing or stakes and although no evidence of remaining wooden pounds were traced in Cumbria two hedge pinfold were found at Threapland and at Crosthwaite. The usual building material used to construct the pounds and pinfolds in Cumbria was stone found or mined in the locality. The Eden Valley pounds use red sandstone, cut square and dressed while in other parts of Cumbria limestone, slate or a mixture of boulder stone, cobbles and field stones were used. Many were dry stone construction originally but over the years have been repaired and rebuilt using various mixes of lime mortar and cement.Over time the original gates or hurdles used in the gateways to the pounds have disappeared. Some have gate stoops still in place and some show signs of cast iron hangers but most are fitted with modern 20th century gates or are open.

In view of the reason for the pound and the risk of “pound break” where owners tried to illegally reclaim their beasts it is likely that the gates would, when in their original use, have been made secure by the methods of the time.  


The existing pounds and pinfolds vary in shape from a rectangular outline in stone about half a metre high (Pooley Bridge and Hutton Roof) to a full 2 m high walled enclosure (Field Broughton and Winton) and every shape and size in between. 2.7 Conclusion.It is hoped that this survey may be used to inform or at least encourage the renovation of the pounds and pinfolds of Cumbria and perhaps stimulate an interest in these modest reminders of everyday life in earlier centuries.

Paper 2: 

Lorton & Derwent Fells – Manorial Records Project. 

Poundfolds and Pinfolds of Cumbria

A Survey of remaining structures and study of their management.

1. Poundfolds and Pinfolds Research.

Poundfolds and pinfolds are structures usually built of stone and were used to impound straying animals. A Pinder collected the animals and drove them to the pound releasing them only on payment of a fee. They were in use in some form probably from the 14th century up until the general enclosure of land. I had identified, from Parish Councils, local information and other sources, that some pounds and pinfolds still existed in the area covered by the Lorton & Derwent Fells Local History Society (L&DLHS) and Cumbria as a whole but it is also obvious that numerous structures had disappeared as most townships would have had a poundfold in the 15th and 16th century. 

There are several different terms used for these structures in manorial records and elswhere. The earlier references tend to be to poundfold or pinfould shortened to fold or fould. In later references  pound or pinfold became the more usual term.    

2.  Manorial Records – Expectation.

Original records providing evidence of their use are difficult to find. Research using first edition Ordnance Survey maps together with other secondary sources provided some information but failed to provide any real sense of how pounds and pinfolds functioned in the mainly agricultural communities of Cumbria. The expectation was that as poundfolds were a mechanism for land management introduced by the Lord of the Manor then evidence of their operation within the manor might be contained within the Manorial Records available through the Cumbria Manorial Records Project. I was hoping to find evidence of how and when pounds and pinfolds were financed, built, maintained and managed. The appointment of the pinder, how he was paid and how he managed the pound was also of interest. The relationship between the manor court and the use or misuse of the pound and the resultant penalties imposed was expected to provide indications of the role of pounds and pinfolds in society during the period covered by the Manorial Records. I was also hoping that any references to pinfolds in a specific township might help me to locate the actual site or existence of the pinfold. referred to.  

3. Manorial Records – Pro’s and Con’s.  

The use of Manorial Records for research into poundfolds and pinfolds through the Cumbria Manorial Records Project has been very successful in providing me with an original source of information about their use and the impact on the society that both used and misused them.  By their nature and custom at the time the records can be a challenge to read and interpret. Some of the earlier records examined for this research were in Latin on parchment scrolls. Fortunately a previous scholar had transcribed many of them. The later documents were in English but even these provided a challenge because of the legal terms, local vernacular and variable spelling. However this challenge was welcomed and suggested several new lines of historical enquiry.  

4. Manorial Records –  Findings.

I have so far examined transcribed records of Manor Court proceedings that were held regularly to appoint officers and impose fines for a large number of offences. (as well as those connected with pounds by far the most numerous were offences such as shedding the blood of someone, keeping scabby horses, breaking a bow and being of evil tongue. They reflect the culture in the 16C and could well inspire further research!).
An examination was also made of Petitions to the Lord of the Manor and Submissions to Counsel.
 My findings were: Fines were regularly imposed for failure to keep fences in good repair. Poor fence maintenance resulted in straying animals and hence the need for pinfolds and pounds. Fines were imposed for “foldbreak or “foldbreach”. The unlawful freeing of animals from the poundfold to avoid the payment to the Pinder: 
  • Derwentfell Capital Court 8th October 1473 – “Brakenthwayt presents John Strib for his servant for 1 foldbreach against John Thomlynson Junior”. Fined 13s 6p.  ref: CROW D/LEC 299a roll 8/10. 
  • Deyn Court 1488 – John Rogerscale for 1 foldbreach and mowing the grass contrary to the penalties. Fined 2d. CROW D/LEC 299a.
  •  Papcas Court 10th October 1533 – “Also they present Thomas Lamplughtt of Doven for 1 foldbreach (fined 40d) and for 12 pigs, 16 sheep and 30 geese on cow pasture of the neighbourhood at the several season” (fined 2s).   ref: CROW D/LEC 299a roll 19/20. 
  •  Court Leet 26th October 1635. For a rescue of a fould break Thomas Wells and a servant of Thomas Dobson fined 12d     ref: CROB BD/HJ/202/8* 

Fines were also imposed for “rescue” where the animals were “rescued” or forcibly taken from the Pinder or bailiff as they were driven to pound: 

  • Derwentfell Court on the Feast of St Denis 1488 – “John Bank Keld is presented for 1 rescue made on the township bailiff Thomas Blaykthwayt near the gate for the keeping of 2 stots(?). Fined 10p.  ref: CROW D/LEC 299a.  
  • Loweswater Court on 13th October in the 19th year of the reighn of Henry 7th (1504) – “Thomas Williamson underbailiff presents Richard Piell for a rescue on the said Thomas when he levies the execution of the court against the wife of Thomas” Fined 40d.  ref: CROW D/LEC 299a.
  • 1636. Thomas Coulton for a rescue made on William Marshall fined 2s  ref: CROB BD/HJ/202/8*  
  •   September 29th.  1640. Two rescues made by the servants of John Marshall from the servants of John Richardson.  Fined 3s 4d.ref: CROB BD/HJ/202/11.

 Pounds and pinfolds had to be maintained and in some cases re-built. The responsibility for this was decided by the Manor Court and also included petitions to the Lord of the Manor: 

  • A petition “To the right honorable George O’Brien, Earl of Egremont and Baron of Cockermouth” from “the tenants of your Lordship’s Manor of Caldbeck Upton and Underfell in the County of Cumberland” . The petition appeals to the Lord Egremont to contribute to the rebuilding of the Pound or Pinfold, as is the custom, and in order to preserve their Right of Pasturage on a large tract of un-enclosed Common in the Manor.
  • The full text provides an insight into the need for a pound, its use and the cost of r      
    rebuilding  it
    of £21:10s in 1816      ref: CROW D/LEC 

    Court Leet 1629 April 29th.”We order that the pinfould at Gleaston shalbe made able by all the towne before the 6 daie of maie next upon paine of 6s 8d”.ref: CROB BD/HJ/202/8* 
  • Manor of Deane petition 22nd October 1699. “now a mercy for tenants of Deane for the punfould wall being out of repair the sum of six shillings and eight pence and the same to be levied of every man as is concerned of…before the
Other entries of interest to be carefully interpreted seem to include the stealing of the poundloose (ie.the charge for letting cattle loose from the pound) and alleged use of the pound to cause mischief: 
  • Wigton Court 23rd May 1533 – “Thomas Lamplughtt, Richard Briscow and William Mertindale, free tenants of the Lord of Dondraw and Whirig did attach foreign cattle and take the poundloose otherwise than they ought and are accustomed” They were fined 40s.  ref: CROW D/LEC 299a roll 19/20.
  • Five Towns Capital Court 30th April 1519 – “John Jakson of Clifton complains of William Hayne of Graysone in the plea of trespass to wit for that same defendant did unlawfully impark a cow of the said plaintiff of the value of 12s in the Inclosure (pound) of Graysothen whereby the same plantiff did lose his cow aforesaid from which his damage is 40s. Defendant denies wherefore an Inquisition plaintiff recovers nothing because defendant is not to blame therefore plaintiff in mercy.  ref: CROW D/LEC 299a *   References and extracts from manorial records of the Manor of Muchland (Michelland)  held at Barrow-in-Furness Records Office and researched by Vivien Huddy.   

As the pounds and pinfolds became obsolete with the Enclosure Acts or through general neglect responsibility for them became problematical. This can be seen in a submission on Manorial Pounds to Counsel made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England.

The main points of advice sought were:
 a, Whether the Commissioners are at liberty to pull down existing pounds.b, Whether they can pull down existing pounds if they substitute them for other pounds.c, Whether if pounds are fallen into decay the Commissioners can be compelled to reinstate them.d, Whether any distinction exists between the pounds in lifehold Manors and those in Manors of inheritance as regards any of the above mentioned questions. Counsel’s opinion is recorded at great length and is subject to ongoing study.ref: CROW D/LEC 293/35  

5. Manorial Records – Work in Progress.

 In further work examining Manorial Records I hope to identify: 
  • more examples of pound management
  • evidence of fines and a reason for their variation
  • references to the pinder and his appointment
  • evidence to link manor record references to still existing pounds and pinfolds
  • the role of the Lord in their construction and management
There is one other known study of pounds and pinfolds being undertaken in North Lincolnshire whose findings are not yet known. In the Furness area of south Cumbria a study of the manororial records of the Manor of Muchland has provided some evidence of pound breaches and rescues, see para 4, which support the findings of this study.    

6. Conclusion.

Manorial Records are proving to be a valuable, and perhaps singular, source of information about how Pounds and Pinfolds featured in the life of the countryside from the 16th to the 19th century. Although only brief details of their construction, upkeep and use can be found, these references do recur regularly and a good picture is beginning to emerge. This first exploration of Manorial Records has consisted mainly of gathering material and this will continue. The next stage is to compare different sources, search for more and hopefully build a good understanding of this historical aspect of our culture and countryside.  

Nigel Mills

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Project of the Field Broughton Historical Society, Field Broughton, Cumbria

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