Duck decoy, 590m south west of Rice Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014447

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Duck decoy, 590m south west of Rice Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: Sharpham

National Grid Reference: ST 46779 40362


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Despite peat extraction of its southern edge and the removal of silt from the pond, the duck decoy 590m south west of Rice Farm survives as a good example of its type. The decoy is within the Somerset Levels and Moors, a wetland area of high archaeological value which has seen rapid change over the past 200 years as a result of drainage and peat cutting.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a square duck decoy located on Glastonbury Heath to the south east of Ham Wall Rhyne. Originally a four pipe decoy, only one of these, the north western, is still in use, adapted to connect the existing pool to the rhyne network. Although the three other pipes have been in-filled, their position can be discerned from differences in vegetation cover and slight hollows. The pool is approximately 40m square, and the pipes aligned north west and south east from each corner. Central to the pool are two rectangular low-lying islands, parallel to each other and aligned north east-south west. The banks of the pool vary in height, standing 0.5m-1m above the water level, estimated at 0.75m-1m depth. On the north east bank and the south west bank are two slightly lower, flatter areas, possibly representing the position of reed ledges, landing places for water fowl by the entrance to the decoy pipe. The area of the decoy was originally larger than the present site, as a strip of woodland 25m-30m wide to the south west has been cut for peat. The area of the decoy is defined by a boundary hedge and rhyne. Originally there was a double rhyne to the north west and north east, which presumably related to water regulation; this is still in place only to the north west. Marked as a decoy pool on an 1886 map it is shown on aerial photographs as a dense wooded area. The pool was cleaned out by machine in 1984/5, and the silts deposited on the banks. The pool still attracts water fowl and is periodically used for shooting. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and posts, though the ground beneath is included. The enclosure rhyne is not included in the scheduling.

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: 27968

Legacy System: RSM


HSL.UK.71-220 Run 47, 2008, November 1971, (1971)
Possible SE pipe visible,, no 1071, 23rd January 1947, (1947)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1886, sheet 52/2 Source Date: 1886 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing