Ancient Monuments

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Duck decoy 250m north west of Moredon House

A Scheduled Monument in North Curry, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0325 / 51°1'56"N

Longitude: -2.9687 / 2°58'7"W

OS Eastings: 332170.840681

OS Northings: 126347.448674

OS Grid: ST321263

Mapcode National: GBR M6.HCQ7

Mapcode Global: FRA 46ND.58L

Entry Name: Duck decoy 250m north west of Moredon House

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014441

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27982

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: North Curry

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a decoy pond, located on Hay Moor to the south of the
River Tone, on Haymoor Old Rhyne.

The area of the decoy is now overgrown, the shape of the pool has altered and
the original area has been reduced. The present pool is oval, approximately
50m x 40m, with an oval central island. There is a also a small island to the
east of the main island, both having mature vegetation on them. The north
side of the pond is enclosed by a low bank, 0.5m high, set 4m away from the
edge of the pond. This continues to the west, but lower, 0.25m high. A south
west inlet to the pond depicted on a recent map is not in evidence. The
pasture fields south of the decoy slope down towards the River Tone.

A linear depression can be seen running from the boundary of Moredon House
towards the decoy. On reaching level ground it curves slightly to the north
east as a waterlogged hollow. This would appear to be an old ditch line, which
can be seen on an 1886 map as feeding into a possible pipe to the south of the
main pool. To the south west, the original inlet can be seen as a disturbed
area of ground some 20m to the south of the present boundary, at the base of a
sharp break of slope.

A further pipe was reportedly ploughed out in the 1970s to the east of the
pool. The main pipe for the decoy would originally have been the north west
arc of the present pool, the land to the south having been removed after 1886
to make a larger pond. The shape of the original pond area appears to be
little changed apart from the extension to the south. A mortared stone sluice
controls the water supply at the north end of the original pond, feeding into
Haymoor Old Rhyne. The decoy is enclosed by an iron fence, similar to other
fences within the vicinity of Moredon House.

The post-medieval Moredon House is located on higher ground 250m to the south
east of the decoy. An area of overgrown land 120m to the east of the monument
contains stone rubble remains of a building, which could be the decoyman's

Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and posts though the ground
beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Decoy ponds are artificially created or modified pools of water onto which
wildfowl were lured to be trapped and killed for food and for feathers. They
consist of a central pool off which lead a number of curving arms or ditches,
known as pipes. Nets were constructed over the narrowing ends of these pipes
towards which the birds were lured by the decoyman and his dog. Screens were
erected along the sides of the pipes with carefully placed gaps so that the
dog would be visible to the birds only when his appearance would lead the
birds towards the nets at the ends of the pipes. Once at the ends the nets
would be dropped and the decoyman was able to wring the birds' necks.
The tradition of constructing such ponds appears to have begun in the medieval
period, with the simplest designs indicating an early date. The more familiar
decoy pond, however, is said to have originated in Holland and to have been
introduced into England in the 17th century. The word `decoy' is said to
derive from the Dutch `eendenkooi' meaning `duck cage'. Their greatest
popularity came in the 18th and 19th centuries when large numbers were built,
with a small number continuing in use until World War II. The ideal size for a
decoy pond was between 1ha and 5ha with a depth of water of not more than a
metre. The number of pipes varies from one to more than five, often arranged
in symmetrical patterns around the central pool. Although once common features
of lowland England (being particularly associated with the east and south east
coasts), modern drainage has modified or destroyed all but a few examples.
Most examples which survive in a near-complete state of preservation will be
considered of national importance and worthy of protection.

The decoy 250m north west of Moredon House exists as a good example of its
type, though it has been altered somewhat in shape and area. It lies within
the Somerset Levels and Moors, a wetland area of high archaeological value,
which has seen rapid landscape change over the past 200 years as a result of
drainage and intensive peat extraction.

Source: Historic England


Notes, maps, photographs of decoys, Savory, H, Savory Papers, (1961)
SMR entry 43336,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1886
Source Date: 1886

Source: Historic England

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