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Duck decoy, 820m SSW of Little Huckham Farm: the western of three decoys on Walton Moor

A Scheduled Monument in Walton, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1056 / 51°6'20"N

Longitude: -2.7908 / 2°47'26"W

OS Eastings: 344729.368986

OS Northings: 134328.325961

OS Grid: ST447343

Mapcode National: GBR MG.BNR9

Mapcode Global: VH7DT.KGZT

Entry Name: Duck decoy, 820m SSW of Little Huckham Farm: the western of three decoys on Walton Moor

Scheduled Date: 6 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014448

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27969

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Walton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a duck decoy situated on Walton Moor, to the east of the
Eighteen Feet Rhyne. It was constructed in 1823 and originally had four pipes.
Approached along an avenue of trees lining Fisher's Drove, the decoy is
surrounded by a rectangular area of woodland 115m by 70m. This woodland was
originally bounded by an enclosure rhyne, feeding from one of the four drains
which abut it. The enclosure rhyne is now mostly infilled to the north and
south, though it is still present to the west.
The pool has been altered from the square depiction of an 1886 map, and is now
an oval pool with two central islands; there is a landbridge to the north of
the western island and a footbridge to the east of the eastern island. The
area is used for shooting and the banks have been enhanced by cleaning out
the silts.
The four pipes are visible within low-lying waterlogged areas, separate from
the pool, as curvilinear slight hollows which originally contained standing
water. The south east corner of the woodland was also under standing water.
This decoy is one of three on Walton Moor which were planned in 1823 by the
Marquis of Bath. Rented to Admiral V Hickley of Taunton, the average total
takings of the three from 1868-1882 was 1200 fowl, varying from 3000 fowl in
1868-9 to 175 in 1874-5. The three were rented to Payne-Gallwey, an authority
on decoys, in the 1880s.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences, posts and footbridges,
although the land 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.

The western decoy on Walton Moor survives as a good example of its type. It
is one of three to survive on Walton Moor and continues in use for shooting.
The decoy 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 cutting.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
'Downside Review' in Downside Review, Volume 5, (1886), 218-224
Other
CS no 969 Run 45, 4815, August 1981, (1981)
HSL.UK.71-220 Run 45, 2155, November 1971, (1971)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1886 Card 63/1
Source Date: 1886
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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