Duck decoy 700m WNW of Rookery Farm


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


Ordnance survey map of Duck decoy 700m WNW of Rookery Farm
© 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.

South Somerset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 51865 28412

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 700m WNW of Rookery Farm survives as an unusual example of its type, with no obvious pipes, within a small oval enclosure. It lies within the Somerset Levels and Moors, a wetland area of high archaeological value, which has seen rapid landscape change during the past 200 years as a result of drainage and intensive peat cutting.


The monument includes an oval decoy pool located on Willmoors, south of the River Cary between Somerton and Charlton Mackrell. The pond, 45m in length and 25m wide, is surrounded by an oval enclosing ditch, which is a maximum of 10m from the pool. The ditch is up to 3m wide, and varying from 0.5m-1m in depth, being silted up and overgrown to the south. The north west ditch could be linked to an underground drainage channel. Between the ditch and the pool, the area is banked up to 1m above the water level. The pool appears quite shallow, particularly the northern extent, which had silted up and had dense reed and rush cover. The pond has a small low central island. No obvious pipes are apparent. Two small indents were present on the south west side of the pond, the northern of the two being 4m in length and 1m-5m wide. The decoy is marked on a map of 1886, which indicates a further small island to the south east, but no enclosing ditch. There is no obvious connection between the pond and the rhyne system, but the pond is located within the outline of a rectangular field bordering the River Cary. 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Title: Ordnance Survey 1886 Source Date: 1886 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Card 73/4
Title: Tithe Map, 1840 Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Somerton, Card 5


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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