Stert Flats

Stert Flats, Bridgwater Bay, Somerset

Numerous fish weirs have been recorded on Stert Flats. Some have been dated by tree-ring dating, others by radiocarbon dating and some by the use of imported species such as spruce or larch, which suggest construction within the last four centuries. A millennium of fish traps is represented in the area. The visibility of the structures varies enormously as there is a lot of soft sediment in the Bay but all the structures show signs of active erosion and decay.

The earliest structures are large individual ‘V’ shaped weirs that use oak timbers at their apex where baskets or nets would have been held to catch the fish channelled in by the arms of the weir. Tree-ring dates have shown that they were constructed in the later 10th century AD.

Other types of fish weir include long ranks of small ‘V’ shaped traps and enormous ‘L’ shaped structure of stone and wood that forced fish towards the corner of the structure on the ebbing tide. These are the types of structure that can be dated to the last two centuries.

The fish traps are extremely dangerous to visit and lie within a National Nature Reserve where permission should be sought from Natural England before venturing out onto the inter-tidal area.

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