Ancient Monuments

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Decoy Wood decoy pond

A Scheduled Monument in Friskney, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0918 / 53°5'30"N

Longitude: 0.1844 / 0°11'3"E

OS Eastings: 546376.660787

OS Northings: 357183.623153

OS Grid: TF463571

Mapcode National: GBR LY1.5G3

Mapcode Global: WHJMC.TK03

Entry Name: Decoy Wood decoy pond

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019098

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33134

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Friskney

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Friskney All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a post-medieval
decoy pond located in Decoy Wood, which lies in the Lincolnshire fenland,
approximately 1.5km north of Friskney.

Documentary and cartographic evidence demonstrate that the decoy pond was one
of 12 decoys formerly in the area and one of five in Friskney parish in 1807.
Known as Shaws Decoy in 1774, it is thought to be one of three decoys depicted
on a map of 1779, and was shown as Shaws Decoy on a map of 1828. In the latter
part of the 19th century the decoy was referred to as Friskney New Decoy. The
decoy was worked by George Skelton senior, one of a famous family of decoymen.
In 1807, Skelton left Friskney for Norfolk, and the decoy was then worked by
his sons, William and Henry, until 1845. From that date it was managed by
William's son, John Skelton, on behalf of Captain Hopkins, until 1860 when the
decoy was taken over by Thomas Crowe. The decoy has not been worked since 1878
and later passed to the Booth Estate who donated it to the Lincolnshire Trust
for Nature Conservation in 1950.

The water-filled pond is roughly star-shaped in plan, measuring approximately
80m by 55m, covering an area of about 0.4ha (1 acre). Six channels, known as
pipes, curve outward in a clockwise direction, from the angles of the pond.
Each pipe, measuring up to 80m in length, narrows as it curves away from the
pond, tapering to a point. The earthwork remains of the pipes are chiefly
shallow depressions with low banks lining the edges of the pipes and the
junction of the pipes with the pond, forming the breast wall and back wing
landings. The decoy lies in a roughly hexagonal area of land, covering
approximately 5.6ha (14 acres) bounded by ditches thought to indicate the
original boundary of the decoy.

Up until 1855, under John Skelton, the decoy was working with six pipes, or
nets, and during this period an average of three to four dozen birds a day
were taken during a season. As the use of the decoy declined, two of the pipes
were discontinued between 1855 and 1860 and afterwards only three pipes were
in use. By 1878, when the decoy was last worked, two of the pipes were in use.

All fence posts and a wooden hut are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath them 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 pond in Decoy Wood survives well as a series of earthwork and buried
remains. The good survival of the pond and pipes preserves evidence of the
layout, construction and use of the decoy, and waterlogging will preserve
evidence of environmental remains, such as seeds, pollen, or timber, providing
information on the use of the decoy and the local environment. In addition,
the raised ground will preserve evidence of landuse prior to construction of
the decoy.

The survival of the decoy pond is rare as one of a group of 12 decoys formerly
located within a small area of the Linconlnshire fenland, and as such it will
preserve valuable evidence of the inter-relationship of decoys as components
of the post-medieval landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Oldfield, E, Wainfleet and the wapentake of Candleshoe, (1829)
Padley, J S, The Fens and Floods of Mid-Lincolnshire, (1882), 64-71
Payne-Gallwey, R, The Book of Duck Decoys, (1886)
Roebuck, A, 'The Lincolnshire magazine' in Lincolnshire duck decoys, , Vol. Vol 2, (1935), 134-138
Parker, A, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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