Ancient Monuments

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Duck decoy 1km south east of Manor Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Sharpham, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1707 / 51°10'14"N

Longitude: -2.7483 / 2°44'53"W

OS Eastings: 347781.114047

OS Northings: 141539.506765

OS Grid: ST477415

Mapcode National: GBR MJ.6FK6

Mapcode Global: VH89X.9TYX

Entry Name: Duck decoy 1km south east of Manor Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014442

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27983

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Sharpham

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes the earthwork remains of a duck decoy, located
within the Somerset Levels and Moors, on East Waste in the Brue River valley.
The decoy is within a sub-rectangular field, bordered to the south and east by
Waste Rhyne.
The decoy has six pipes, three extending symmetrically from each of the north
and south ends. These are visible as curving waterlogged depressions up to
50m in length, narrowing away from their 5m width at the entrance to the
square pond site. The two north west pipes curve to the east, and the two
south east pipes curve to the west. The pond is 45m-50m square with rushes
being the predominant vegetation. The rushes also grow in the wetter pipes and
help to define their position.
There would appear to be evidence for an enclosure rhyne within the field, as
there is a filled in ditch to the east, south and west which respects the
decoy, and encloses it within an oval boundary. To the outside of this
boundary, the field has been drained, but the decoy has not. There is a
possible inlet channel on the west side of the pond.
Earthworks are slight, being a maximum of 0.2m high. There is a group of
trees adjacent to the central southern pipe, which appears to stand in a
flooded hollow.
The decoy is reported to have been in existence by 1736. It shows as a
crop mark on a 1947 aerial photograph. A road to the south east of the
monument is called Decoy Pool Road.
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 1km south east of Manor Farm exists as a good example of its type,
having low earthworks and a clear ground layout. 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


Books and journals
Ley, IB, Somerset Duck Decoys, (1977)
1062, CPE/UK 1924 16.1.47, (1947)
SMR entry 24266,

Source: Historic England

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