Civil War battery and two associated platforms 300m south east of Bar Point, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010171

Date first listed: 14-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Civil War battery and two associated platforms 300m south east of Bar Point, 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 91795 12771


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 and its associated platforms have survived well, forming a small but complete and interrelated complex of fieldworks. Their situation, and the survival of extensive historical documentation giving the context in which they were built, demonstrate clearly the strategic methods employed by the Civil War military forces and the functions of batteries within them. These methods are also well illustrated by the complementary relationship of this monument to the other surviving batteries along the coastline of St Mary's.


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


The monument includes a gun battery and two adjacent platforms for temporary buildings, all dating to the English Civil War and situated on the northern coastal slope of St Mary's, overlooking Bar Point and the north west end of Crow Sound in the Isles of Scilly.

The battery survives with a near semicircular, earth and rubble terrace built out from the slope, with its rounded end facing NNE, and provided with flanking banks to the west and south east. The battery's terrace measures 12.5m WNW-ESE by 14m NNE-SSW at its base, rising 2.5m to a levelled upper surface measuring 6.5m WNW-ESE by 8m NNE-SSW. A broad shallow ditch, 3m wide and 0.3m deep, runs alongside the outer edge of the terrace's base. The two earthen flanking banks are up to 6m wide, rising to 1.3m high on their northern side and 0.7m high on their southern side. They extend 12m west from the terrace's south west corner and 10m south east from its south east corner. The two associated platforms are separated by a gap of 2m on a north east- south west axis, the north eastern platform extending from 3m north west of the tip of the battery's western flanking bank. Each platform is formed as an ovoid levelled area, its long axis orientated WNW-ESE along the contour, cut into the slope on its uphill side and terraced out from the slope on its downhill side. The south western platform measures 12m WNW-ESE by 5m wide; the north eastern platform measures 14m WNW-ESE by 6m wide.

This battery and its platforms form part of an integrated system of Civil War coastal defences which survive extensively around St Mary's. These defences include breastworks bordering potential landing places and near important settlements and installations, coupled with a system of batteries commanding complementary fields of fire over the waters around much of the island's coast. The battery in this monument has a field of fire over the inner, north west, end of the important strait of Crow Sound, the main route of entry for shipping into the Scilly archipelago from the east. Its position also covers nearly the entire area of the northern inner waters of the Isles of Scilly between the major islands of St Mary's, St Martin's and Tresco. This battery complements the fields of fire of other Civil War batteries on the headlands of the north east and north west coasts of St Mary's, while most of the shoreline of St Mary's bordering Crow Sound is also defended by a breastwork, from 85m north east of this monument.

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: 15380

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
O'Neil, BH St J, Ancient Monuments of the Isles of Scilly, (1949)
Ratcliffe, J, The Archaeology of Scilly, (1989)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7487, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9112 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; Outdoor Leisure 25; Isles of Scilly Source Date: 1992 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing