Ancient Monuments

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Duck decoy, 770m SSE of Gold Corner Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Cossington, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1781 / 51°10'41"N

Longitude: -2.9021 / 2°54'7"W

OS Eastings: 337036.678511

OS Northings: 142485.679203

OS Grid: ST370424

Mapcode National: GBR M9.64KT

Mapcode Global: VH7DC.NN46

Entry Name: Duck decoy, 770m SSE of Gold Corner Bridge

Scheduled Date: 6 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014858

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27964

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Cossington

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a well preserved duck decoy pool, located on the
Somerset Moors, 2km north east of the village of Cossington, in the Brue
Valley. A square central pool is visually the most obvious part of the
monument, reputed to be 1m deep, with slightly raised banks on the south, east
and north separating the pool from the surrounding water-logged pasture. The
pool is approximately 60m square, with an irregular south bank much overgrown
by trees and brambles.
There are four pipes which extend north and south from each corner, between
30m and 38m in length. Those visible had the typical curving horn shape and
were over 5m wide at the mouth. Two small islands can be seen in the north
west quadrant of the pool. A linear water filled hollow to the south indicates
the position of a possible outlet/supply channel.
The enclosure rhyne remains in use and is not included in the scheduling; the
field layout indicates that it was not constructed as a part of the original
The decoy is evident from aerial photographs of 1947 and 1971. The complete
decoy is shown on the 1886 OS map, marked as a decoy pool in a wooded/marshy
area, with Decoy Rhyne running on the west boundary.
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 at Cossington survives as a good example of its class. 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 cutting.

Source: Historic England


CPE/UK/1924, no 1051, (1947)
Run 37, 1642, November 1971, (1971)
Title: Ordnance Survey sheet 39/14
Source Date: 1886

Source: Historic England

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