Scattered across the English countryside and in many former British colonies, especially northeastern United States—an area historically known as New England—one can find small, rectangular areas bounded by stone walls with no visible structure inside. These are town pounds (or village pounds) where stray animals were imprisoned until they could be claimed by their owners. Like the village church, the pound was an indispensable part of mediaeval villages, especially in farming communities, where disputes inevitably arose when a neighbor’s livestock wandered into a person’s crops. The pound keeper would then impound the animals and the owner would have to pay a fine as well as compensation for whatever damage his animals had done.
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The Olde Towne Pound in Hopkington, Massachusetts. Photo: neoc1/waymarking.com