Ancient Monuments

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Duck decoy 700m WNW of Rookery Farm

A Scheduled Monument in The Charltons, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.053 / 51°3'10"N

Longitude: -2.6881 / 2°41'17"W

OS Eastings: 351864.770159

OS Northings: 128410.64462

OS Grid: ST518284

Mapcode National: GBR ML.FYM1

Mapcode Global: FRA 568B.DLG

Entry Name: Duck decoy 700m WNW of Rookery Farm

Scheduled Date: 10 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015206

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27985

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: The Charltons

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes an oval decoy pool located on Willmoors, south of the
River Cary between Somerton and Charlton Mackrell.
The pond, 45m in length and 25m wide, is surrounded by an oval enclosing
ditch, which is a maximum of 10m from the pool. The ditch is up to 3m wide,
and varying from 0.5m-1m in depth, being silted up and overgrown to the south.
The north west ditch could be linked to an underground drainage channel.
Between the ditch and the pool, the area is banked up to 1m above the water
level. The pool appears quite shallow, particularly the northern extent,
which had silted up and had dense reed and rush cover. The pond has a small
low central island.
No obvious pipes are apparent. Two small indents were present on the south
west side of the pond, the northern of the two being 4m in length and 1m-5m
The decoy is marked on a map of 1886, which indicates a further small island
to the south east, but no enclosing ditch. There is no obvious connection
between the pond and the rhyne system, but the pond is located within the
outline of a rectangular field bordering the River Cary.
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.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 700m WNW of Rookery Farm survives as an unusual example of its type,
with no obvious pipes, within a small oval enclosure. It lies within the
Somerset Levels and Moors, a wetland area of high archaeological value, which
has seen rapid landscape change during the past 200 years as a result of
drainage and intensive peat cutting.

Source: Historic England


Title: Ordnance Survey 1886
Source Date: 1886
Card 73/4
Title: Tithe Map, 1840
Source Date: 1840
Somerton, Card 5

Source: Historic England

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