Prehistoric linear boundary 50m ENE of Mount Todden Battery, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010165

Date first listed: 09-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric linear boundary 50m ENE of Mount Todden Battery, St Mary's
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Isles of Scilly (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Mary's

National Grid Reference: SV 93042 11575


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. The early linear boundaries on the Isles of Scilly were constructed from the Bronze Age to the early medieval period (c.2000 BC-AD 1066): closer dating within that period may be provided by their visible relationships to other classes of monument, or by their relationship with an earlier recorded sea level. They consist of stone walls, up to 3m wide and 1.1m high but usually much slighter, and are formed of heaped rubble, often incorporating edge- or end-set slabs called orthostats. Linear boundaries served a variety of functions. These included separating land regularly cultivated from that less intensively used, separating land held by different social groups, or delineating areas set aside for ceremonial, religious and funerary activities. Linear boundaries are often associated with other forms of contemporary field system. The Isles of Scilly contain examples of an associaton, rarely encountered elswhere, whereby certain linear boundaries directly link several cairns, entrance graves and cists in some groups of prehistoric funerary monuments. Linear boundaries along the coastal margin of the islands are often indistinguishable from the truncated upper walls of early field systems whose remaining extent has been destroyed by the rising sea level. Linear boundaries form a substantial part of the evidence of early field systems recorded on the Isles of Scilly. They provide significant insights into the physical and social organisation of past landscapes and form an important element in the existing landscape. Even where truncated by the rising sea level, their surviving lengths provide important evidence for the wider contemporary context within which other nationally important monuments at higher altitudes were constructed. A substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

This linear boundary on Mount Todden Down has survived reasonably well despite the truncation of its lower end by the rising sea level. The evidence which the monument constitutes for the presence and manner of prehistoric land division on this slope provides the broader context within which were constructed the nationally important prehistoric field system on Toll's Island and the cairns on this and the other coastal downs. The relationships between this boundary and the field system and cairns, the local topography and the use of a natural outcrop as the boundary's uphill terminal all show well the nature of land use among prehistoric communities and the organisation of funerary and farming activities.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric linear boundary crossing the coastal slope on the eastern edge of Mount Todden Down on eastern St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The linear boundary survives as a boulder wall, up to 1m high and 1.5m wide, which extends for 30m WSW-ENE, directly down the lower half of the steep coastal slope on the eastern edge of Mount Todden Down. The wall incorporates a row of large and often contiguously laid slabs, some set on edge, measuring up to 1.75m long, 1m wide and 1m high, together with smaller slabs and rubble. The boundary extends down the slope from a large flat natural outcrop measuring 4m long, north east-south west, by 3m wide. At its lower end, the gradual submergence of the land since the prehistoric period has resulted in the truncation of the boundary by the present coastal cliff. This monument is located 360m south of a broadly contemporary field system on the opposite side of Pelistry Bay on Toll's Island, the intervening present bay of South Pelistry having been formed by the submergence since this monument and the Toll's Island field system were constructed. This monument is also 190m ENE of a broadly contemporary funerary cairn on the summit plateau of Mount Todden Down, while cemeteries of broadly contemporary funerary cairns are located on each of the successive coastal downs to the south, from Normandy Down to Salakee Down.

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: 15374

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7234, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7238, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 SW Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2534 Scheduling Maplet for CO 1019 & CO 1025 Source Date: 1908 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: consulted 1994

End of official listing