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Duck decoy, 590m south west of Rice Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Sharpham, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.16 / 51°9'35"N

Longitude: -2.7624 / 2°45'44"W

OS Eastings: 346781.873086

OS Northings: 140355.833223

OS Grid: ST467403

Mapcode National: GBR MH.79YM

Mapcode Global: VH8B3.23HL

Entry Name: Duck decoy, 590m south west of Rice Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014447

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27968

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Sharpham

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a square duck decoy located on Glastonbury Heath to the
south east of Ham Wall Rhyne.
Originally a four pipe decoy, only one of these, the north western, is still
in use, adapted to connect the existing pool to the rhyne network. Although
the three other pipes have been in-filled, their position can be discerned
from differences in vegetation cover and slight hollows. The pool is
approximately 40m square, and the pipes aligned north west and south east from
each corner.
Central to the pool are two rectangular low-lying islands, parallel to each
other and aligned north east-south west. The banks of the pool vary in height,
standing 0.5m-1m above the water level, estimated at 0.75m-1m depth. On the
north east bank and the south west bank are two slightly lower, flatter areas,
possibly representing the position of reed ledges, landing places for water
fowl by the entrance to the decoy pipe.
The area of the decoy was originally larger than the present site, as a strip
of woodland 25m-30m wide to the south west has been cut for peat. The area of
the decoy is defined by a boundary hedge and rhyne. Originally there was a
double rhyne to the north west and north east, which presumably related
to water regulation; this is still in place only to the north west.
Marked as a decoy pool on an 1886 map it is shown on aerial photographs as a
dense wooded area. The pool was cleaned out by machine in 1984/5, and the
silts deposited on the banks. The pool still attracts water fowl and is
periodically used for shooting.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and posts, though the
ground beneath is included. The enclosure rhyne is not included in the
scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Despite peat extraction of its southern edge and the removal of silt from the
pond, the duck decoy 590m south west of Rice Farm survives as a good example
of its type. The decoy is within the Somerset Levels and Moors, a wetland area
of high archaeological value which has seen rapid change over the past 200
years as a result of drainage and peat cutting.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
HSL.UK.71-220 Run 47, 2008, November 1971, (1971)
Possible SE pipe visible, CPE.uk.1944, no 1071, 23rd January 1947, (1947)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1886, sheet 52/2
Source Date: 1886
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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