Duck decoy, 250m south of Black Rock Villas


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Duck decoy, 250m south of Black Rock Villas
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. 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.

North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 45672 74247

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 pool 250m south of Black Rock Villas is a good example of its type, and will preserve structural and environmental evidence in waterlogged conditions. The earthwork and pond are particularly well preserved for a decoy and clearly define the layout.


The monument includes the earthwork remains of an 18th century six pipe duck decoy, located on Clapton Moor, an isolated area of wetland, 2km inland from the Severn Estuary.

The square central pool of the decoy is periodically flooded or waterlogged and has a high concentration of rushes defining its boundaries, approximately 50m square. An attempt has been made to drain the pool by cutting a drain to it from the south east surrounding ditch. This was noted by H Savory in 1961 as being newly cut.

The decoy is highly visible, with excellent preservation of pipes and banks. The earthen banks stand up to 1m high above the level of the pool, and up to 0.75m above the pipes. The pipes extend symmetrically south east and north west from the pool, 35m-40m in length, four curving to the south west, and two to the north east. There is a gap of approximately 18m between the mouths of each pipe, which are 4m in width at their junction with the pool. The south west pipe is the longest, almost enclosing the southern central pipe.

Some 15m to the south west of the decoy is a silted-up ditch, which runs parallel to the present south western field boundary. The northern end of this ditch curves around to the north east, enclosing the decoy, and would have joined the north eastern field boundary. An aerial photograph of 1946 shows this ditch to have been lined with trees and marks the position of the decoy's original area and enclosure rhyne. This is confirmed by the County Series map of 1902.

A possible inlet or outlet channel is located to the south east of the area. The site was visited by Reverend F W Blathwayte in 1935, who indicated the position of a stone concentration to the south of the pipes as being the remains of the decoyman's hut. The area was wooded in 1935, but the ground was cleared in the 1950s.

Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and posts, although 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:


Books and journals
Savory, H, Savory Papers, (1961)
Wooded area defined, CPE.UK.1869, 3056, 4/12/46, (1946)


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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