Civil War battery at Works Point, Bryher


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010163

Date first listed: 08-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Civil War battery at Works Point, Bryher
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Nov-2018 at 23:32:50.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Isles of Scilly (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bryher

National Grid Reference: SV 87870 14036


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The Isles of Scilly, the westernmost of the granite masses of south west England, contain a remarkable abundance and variety of archaeological remains from over 4000 years of human activity. The remote physical setting of the islands, over 40km beyond the mainland in the approaches to the English Channel, has lent a distinctive character to those remains, producing many unusual features important for our broader understanding of the social development of early communities. Throughout the human occupation there has been a gradual submergence of the islands' land area, providing a stimulus to change in the environment and its exploitation. This process has produced evidence for responses to such change against an independent time-scale, promoting integrated studies of archaeological, environmental and linguistic aspects of the islands' settlement. The islands' archaeological remains demonstrate clearly the gradually expanding size and range of contacts of their communities. By the post- medieval period (from AD 1540), the islands occupied a nationally strategic location, resulting in an important concentration of defensive works reflecting the development of fortification methods and technology from the mid 16th to the 20th centuries. An important and unusual range of post- medieval monuments also reflects the islands' position as a formidable hazard for the nation's shipping in the western approaches. The exceptional preservation of the archaeological remains on the islands has long been recognised, producing an unusually full and detailed body of documentation, including several recent surveys. Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military operations between 1642 and 1651 to provide temporary protection for infantry or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced with revetting or palisades, consist of earth and rubble platforms or banks and ditches. The Civil War fieldworks of the Isles of Scilly form a major part of the 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. They present an unusually complete system of fortifications from this period, both in the surviving range of fieldwork types represented and in the surviving pattern of their strategic disposition. Three main types of Civil War fieldwork have been recognised on the Isles of Scilly: breastworks, batteries and platforms; these could be deployed separately or in combination to form a defensive complex. Breastworks, which on the Isles of Scilly run beside the coastal cliff edge, consist of an earth and rubble bank, up to 4m wide and nearly 2m high but generally much smaller, usually accompanied by a ditch on the landward side. Sixteen surviving examples are recorded on the island. Batteries are levelled areas or platforms, generally up to 20m across, situated on a hilltop or terraced into a slope to serve as gun emplacements. They vary considerably in size and shape and are usually partially or wholly enclosed by a bank, occasionally incorporating one or two outer ditches. Twenty batteries survive on the Isles of Scilly, several connected by breastworks. Adjacent to some batteries are examples of the third fieldwork type, platforms. These are partly terraced into, and partly out from, sloping ground and represent sites of lookouts and temporary buildings. Eight such platforms, measuring up to 12m by 8m in size, are known to survive on the islands. These fieldworks and fieldwork complexes were occasionally associated with other classes of defensive monument on the islands, including earthen artillery forts and blockhouses. The fieldworks were designed to defend the deep water approaches to the islands, especially St Mary's where most examples are found. Fieldworks are also known from Tresco, Bryher, Samson, St Agnes and Gugh. The circumstances of their construction are recorded in contemporary historical documents which indicate most were built by the Royalist forces which controlled the islands for the entire Civil War period except during 1646-8.

This Civil War battery at Works Point has survived well and has not been excavated. Its situation and the survival of extensive documentation giving the historical context in which this battery was built demonstrate clearly the strategic methods employed by the Civil War military forces and the function of batteries within them. These defensive methods are also well illustrated in their broader context by the surviving series of complementary batteries around the main approaches to the islands, in whose north western sector this monument formed an integral part.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a gun battery dating to the English Civil War and situated on Works Point, a minor headland at the southern tip of Bryher in the Isles of Scilly.

The battery survives with a near semicircular bank of earth and rubble extending immediately behind the slight sea cliff and around the southern edges of a low rocky knoll on the small headland. An additional flanking bank covers the field of fire to the south west. The battery's bank measures up to 3m wide, 0.9m high externally, facing the southerly aspects, and 0.15m internally. It encloses an area 12m wide, east-west, by 8m north-south, defined to the north by the spread of low natural outcrops. Several outliers from the outcrops occur within the battery interior but they leave sufficient level areas to serve as a gun emplacement. From the western end of its curve, the battery's bank is angled to the north west, extending behind the sea cliff for a further 18m to reinforce the south western flank of the battery. The presence of this battery has resulted in the name of the small headland on which it is sited, the term `works' being frequently used on the Isles of Scilly to denote a Civil War fortification.

This battery forms part of an integrated system of Civil War coastal defences which survive extensively around the Isles of Scilly, focussed on protecting the main populated island of St Mary's and including a dispersed group of batteries on the other major islands controlling the principal approaches to the inner waters of the Scillies. The battery in this monument is sited to control the north western approaches into the islands, between Bryher and Samson and between the southern ends of Bryher and Tresco. On Bryher, this battery complements the field of fire of a second contemporary battery, 570m to the north on The Green, controlling the southern strait between Bryher and Tresco.

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: 15397

Legacy System: RSM


consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7387, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7397, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8714 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing