Monday, 28 March 2016

Surveying at Boarstall duck decoy

Five members braved a foggy March morning to help National Trust archaeologist Gary Marshall survey earthworks. The duck decoy is a large pond with several inlets (known as 'pipes') leading from it: originally covered with netting on a frame, these get smaller as they go away from the pond. Ducks were enticed along these 'pipes' until easily caught at the narrow end. Originally ducks were trapped for the table, more recently for ringing. Decoys were once common, but few now remain and Boarstall is one of the best preserved.

The pattern of pipes and ponds has changed over the years, and there is evidence of former ridge-and-furrow. Our task was to map the various earthworks. Recent rain had left the site soggy, so there were cries of 'Hurry up - I'm sinking!' The wooded site also has vicious brambles, so once in position, getting out was often harder. But the sun came out.

A further session will complete the survey on 1 April (an appropriate date) but this may need only half a day.    Pauline Hey

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