Duck decoy, 820m SSW of Little Huckham Farm: the western of three decoys on Walton Moor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014448

Date first listed: 06-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Duck decoy, 820m SSW of Little Huckham Farm: the western of three decoys on Walton Moor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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: Walton

National Grid Reference: ST 44731 34328


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.

The western decoy on Walton Moor survives as a good example of its type. It is one of three to survive on Walton Moor and continues in use for shooting. The decoy 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 cutting.


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


The monument includes a duck decoy situated on Walton Moor, to the east of the Eighteen Feet Rhyne. It was constructed in 1823 and originally had four pipes. Approached along an avenue of trees lining Fisher's Drove, the decoy is surrounded by a rectangular area of woodland 115m by 70m. This woodland was originally bounded by an enclosure rhyne, feeding from one of the four drains which abut it. The enclosure rhyne is now mostly infilled to the north and south, though it is still present to the west. The pool has been altered from the square depiction of an 1886 map, and is now an oval pool with two central islands; there is a landbridge to the north of the western island and a footbridge to the east of the eastern island. The area is used for shooting and the banks have been enhanced by cleaning out the silts. The four pipes are visible within low-lying waterlogged areas, separate from the pool, as curvilinear slight hollows which originally contained standing water. The south east corner of the woodland was also under standing water. This decoy is one of three on Walton Moor which were planned in 1823 by the Marquis of Bath. Rented to Admiral V Hickley of Taunton, the average total takings of the three from 1868-1882 was 1200 fowl, varying from 3000 fowl in 1868-9 to 175 in 1874-5. The three were rented to Payne-Gallwey, an authority on decoys, in the 1880s. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences, posts and footbridges, although the land 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: 27969

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Downside Review' in Downside Review, Volume 5, (1886), 218-224
CS no 969 Run 45, 4815, August 1981, (1981)
HSL.UK.71-220 Run 45, 2155, November 1971, (1971)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1886 Card 63/1 Source Date: 1886 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing