Despite their name, it is now generally accepted that, they are mainly replenished by rain, other sources mist and maybe dew, making a small contribution.
on the Downs to water sheep. It seems that they became popular in the nineteenth century, for the growing numbers of sheep at that time.
There has been much debate about their origins and individual age.
There is a certain romance to the thought of them being maintained by the swirling morning mists and much poetry and some number of folk songs has been written, together with various references in literature and works on the history of the Downs. See here for some definitions
I am seeking to build a collection from all these references adding old and new images plus a bit of science on what makes a dewpond.
In the last 15 years or so there has been a revival in their fortunes with many being restored and indeed some number created from bare hillsides. This is not for the benefit of the sheep, but a wish to provide habitats for wildlife and a visual return to a historic landscape.
To some, a pond that has ceased to be used for watering livestock and becomes a wildlife habitat, ceases to be a true dewpond. However many ponds now only exist to contain water, thanks to their capacity for wildlife. This use can soon lead to their becoming choked with reeds and die and disappear once the bottom is pierced. There is a national policy to restore and maintain 'Ponds' generally and substantial grants are available to do so. You will find here details of organisations who are involved in pond clearing and restorations.
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