Decoy Wood decoy pond


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


Ordnance survey map of Decoy Wood decoy pond
© 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.

East Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 46378 57190

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 pond in Decoy Wood survives well as a series of earthwork and buried remains. The good survival of the pond and pipes preserves evidence of the layout, construction and use of the decoy, and waterlogging will preserve evidence of environmental remains, such as seeds, pollen, or timber, providing information on the use of the decoy and the local environment. In addition, the raised ground will preserve evidence of landuse prior to construction of the decoy.

The survival of the decoy pond is rare as one of a group of 12 decoys formerly located within a small area of the Linconlnshire fenland, and as such it will preserve valuable evidence of the inter-relationship of decoys as components of the post-medieval landscape.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a post-medieval decoy pond located in Decoy Wood, which lies in the Lincolnshire fenland, approximately 1.5km north of Friskney.

Documentary and cartographic evidence demonstrate that the decoy pond was one of 12 decoys formerly in the area and one of five in Friskney parish in 1807. Known as Shaws Decoy in 1774, it is thought to be one of three decoys depicted on a map of 1779, and was shown as Shaws Decoy on a map of 1828. In the latter part of the 19th century the decoy was referred to as Friskney New Decoy. The decoy was worked by George Skelton senior, one of a famous family of decoymen. In 1807, Skelton left Friskney for Norfolk, and the decoy was then worked by his sons, William and Henry, until 1845. From that date it was managed by William's son, John Skelton, on behalf of Captain Hopkins, until 1860 when the decoy was taken over by Thomas Crowe. The decoy has not been worked since 1878 and later passed to the Booth Estate who donated it to the Lincolnshire Trust for Nature Conservation in 1950.

The water-filled pond is roughly star-shaped in plan, measuring approximately 80m by 55m, covering an area of about 0.4ha (1 acre). Six channels, known as pipes, curve outward in a clockwise direction, from the angles of the pond. Each pipe, measuring up to 80m in length, narrows as it curves away from the pond, tapering to a point. The earthwork remains of the pipes are chiefly shallow depressions with low banks lining the edges of the pipes and the junction of the pipes with the pond, forming the breast wall and back wing landings. The decoy lies in a roughly hexagonal area of land, covering approximately 5.6ha (14 acres) bounded by ditches thought to indicate the original boundary of the decoy.

Up until 1855, under John Skelton, the decoy was working with six pipes, or nets, and during this period an average of three to four dozen birds a day were taken during a season. As the use of the decoy declined, two of the pipes were discontinued between 1855 and 1860 and afterwards only three pipes were in use. By 1878, when the decoy was last worked, two of the pipes were in use.

All fence posts and a wooden hut are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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
Oldfield, E, Wainfleet and the wapentake of Candleshoe, (1829)
Padley, J S, The Fens and Floods of Mid-Lincolnshire, (1882), 64-71
Payne-Gallwey, R, The Book of Duck Decoys, (1886)
Roebuck, A, 'The Lincolnshire magazine' in Lincolnshire duck decoys, , Vol. Vol 2, (1935), 134-138
Parker, A, (1999)


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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