Duck decoy 250m north west of Moredon House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Duck decoy 250m north west of Moredon House
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Taunton Deane (District Authority)
North Curry
National Grid Reference:
ST 32172 26348

Reasons for Designation

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 250m north west of Moredon House exists as a good example of its type, though it has been altered somewhat in shape and area. 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 extraction.


The monument includes a decoy pond, located on Hay Moor to the south of the River Tone, on Haymoor Old Rhyne.

The area of the decoy is now overgrown, the shape of the pool has altered and the original area has been reduced. The present pool is oval, approximately 50m x 40m, with an oval central island. There is a also a small island to the east of the main island, both having mature vegetation on them. The north side of the pond is enclosed by a low bank, 0.5m high, set 4m away from the edge of the pond. This continues to the west, but lower, 0.25m high. A south west inlet to the pond depicted on a recent map is not in evidence. The pasture fields south of the decoy slope down towards the River Tone.

A linear depression can be seen running from the boundary of Moredon House towards the decoy. On reaching level ground it curves slightly to the north east as a waterlogged hollow. This would appear to be an old ditch line, which can be seen on an 1886 map as feeding into a possible pipe to the south of the main pool. To the south west, the original inlet can be seen as a disturbed area of ground some 20m to the south of the present boundary, at the base of a sharp break of slope.

A further pipe was reportedly ploughed out in the 1970s to the east of the pool. The main pipe for the decoy would originally have been the north west arc of the present pool, the land to the south having been removed after 1886 to make a larger pond. The shape of the original pond area appears to be little changed apart from the extension to the south. A mortared stone sluice controls the water supply at the north end of the original pond, feeding into Haymoor Old Rhyne. The decoy is enclosed by an iron fence, similar to other fences within the vicinity of Moredon House.

The post-medieval Moredon House is located on higher ground 250m to the south east of the decoy. An area of overgrown land 120m to the east of the monument contains stone rubble remains of a building, which could be the decoyman's cottage.

Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and posts though the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Notes, maps, photographs of decoys, Savory, H, Savory Papers, (1961)
SMR entry 43336,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1886 Source Date: 1886 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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