Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Duck decoy at Abbotsbury Swannery, 630m SSW of Horsepool Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Abbotsbury, Dorset

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 50.6545 / 50°39'16"N

Longitude: -2.6011 / 2°36'3"W

OS Eastings: 357604.066568

OS Northings: 84041.652683

OS Grid: SY576840

Mapcode National: GBR PT.7KL6

Mapcode Global: FRA 57FB.Y6N

Entry Name: Duck decoy at Abbotsbury Swannery, 630m SSW of Horsepool Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015695

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29046

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Abbotsbury

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Abbotsbury St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a three-pipe duck decoy situated on level marshy ground
to the north of Chesil Beach and to the south of Abbotsbury.
The central pool of the decoy is waterlogged and roughly 57m square. The pool
is served by three inlets or `pipes' which are located in the north western,
north eastern and south eastern corners respectively. The pipes all remain
waterlain and vary in size from 1.5m to 5m in width and from 15m to 50m in
length. The north western and north eastern examples formed the principle
pipes of the pool.
The decoy is recorded in documents dating from 1655-56 and is shown on a Tithe
Map of 1845.
Excluded from the scheduling are all nets and supporting posts associated with
the decoy pipes, although the ground beneath these features 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 Abbotsbury Swannery, 630m SSW of Horsepool Farm, is well
preserved and, as it lies within a natural marsh, will contain high quality
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the
landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 8

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.