The Dewpond is undoubtedly a focus of Lancing Ring, a meeting point and a place to stop for a rest.
It would be interesting to hear views of readers, what do you think about the Dewpond, what memories does it invoke?
Restoring the Dew Pond
Dew ponds are man-made ponds, built to hold drinking water for the hundreds of sheep that once grazed the Downs as well as being significant landscape features. These circular ponds were traditionally made by lining a dip with clay and straw to stop the water filtering through the chalk.
The South Downs are made of porous chalk so, in order to hold water a layer of non-porous, impervious clay is ‘puddled’ into a chalk depression.
A modern tecnique for restoring Dew ponds is to put a butyl liner underneath the clay. The liner holds the water should the clay crack during hot and dry weather.
Folklore has provided the name Dew pond (and in some areas – Mist pond) for these hill ponds. Although dew and mist do contribute a small amount of water, the vast amount comes from rainfall.
They retain water in all but the driest summers because water evaporation is much less than annual rainfall.
This Dew pond was restored in 1991 by the Friends of Lancing Ring in conjunction with Adur District Council, West Sussex County County Council, The Gambles Group, Blue Circle Cement, M. Langmead, Farmer and Local Volunteers
The following is the text from an article in the Herald, Friday October 4th 1991
It’s ‘claytime’ for children at ancient ring
Story: Michelle Nevell
It was claytime for [these] Lancing schoolchildren as they delved deep into the past to search for fossils.
About 60 pupils from North Lancing school walked up to nearby Lancing Ring on Saturday for a ready-made geology lesson.
They spent a few happy hours knee-deep in clay looking for fossils before the clay was stamped down to make the base for an ancient dewpond.
The eight and nine-year-old children have been helping The Friends of Lancing Ring in it’s bid to restore the dewpond, which was drained and used during World War II as a base for a gun aimed out to sea.
Conservationists are aiming to restore the dewpond as a natural landscape feature with the help of volunteers, the Adur Valley Project and Adur District Council. Livestock Dewponds were originally built as a source of water for livestock but they also provide an invaluable water habitat for wildlife and an oasis on the otherwise dry and chalky South Downs.
With the general decline of traditional grazing over the past 30 years, many dewponds, once a common sight on the South Downs, have either been filled in or lost through neglect.
But conservationists have spent months bringing the dewpond back to it’s former glory. Turf has been removed and excavation work carried out. On Saturday the volunteers stamped down the clay with straw to form the vital lining necessary to retain the water.
All the equipment and materials have been loaned and donated by local firms and farmers. Work should be completed on the 200 year old dewpond by the end of the month, making it one of the largest in Sussex.
Following the restoration the lining developed a leak and the Dewpond would not retain water.
In the winter of 1999/2000 the pond was stripped out and relined.
In the years following, the pond has become a successful feature of Lancing Ring.
Many birds come to drink and collect mud for nest building, Dragonflies have begun to breed among the aquatic reeds.
Two other dew ponds used to exist nearby, one at Barton’s Farm (TQ 182 063), the other near the bridleway north of McIntyres Field (TQ 186 062).
The former can be seen as a depression with a slight mound around it. The latter is a hollow area among trees at the top of a footpath.