Civil War battery and associated platform at Carn Morval Point, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010173

Date first listed: 14-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Civil War battery and associated platform at Carn Morval 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 90597 11968


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 platform have survived well, forming a small but complete complex of fieldworks intimately related to the defence of the nearby military and administrative centre. 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 an adjacent and associated platform for temporary buildings, both dating to the English Civil War and situated at the landward end of the rocky promontory of Carn Morval Point on the west coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.

The battery occupies a triangular area on the spine of a slight ridge extending ESE from the promontory's outcrops. The NNW and south west flanks of the battery meet almost at right angles at the landward end of those outcrops and are each defined by an earth and rubble bank, 20m long and 4m wide by up to 1m high along the outer side. The rear edge of the battery, across the ends of the flanking banks, remained undefined. Along the outer edge of the south west bank, the adjoining slope is levelled to a width of 2.5m, accentuating the outer height of the bank and providing material for its construction. The interior of the battery is levelled up to 0.8m above the surrounding ground level at its western tip. The interior measures 21m NNE-SSW, across the rear, by up to 12m ESE-WNW, from the rear to the battery's western apex.

The associated platform is located 22m north east of the battery, at a slightly lower level on the adjoining coastal slope. It is visible as a sub-rectangular levelled area measuring 8m NNE-SSW, along the contour, by 6m ESE-WNW. The levelled interior was cut 1m deep into the slope on its uphill side and terraced out from the slope by 1.2m on its downhill side, where the outer face of the terrace was retained by a roughly coursed slab-built wall.

This battery and its platform 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 two fields of fire, to the north west and the south west, commanding the waters along much of the western side of St Mary's and controlling the strategically important approaches to St Mary's Pool, containing the main harbour for the Garrison and Hugh Town, the military and administrative centre of the islands. This battery complements the fields of fire of other surviving Civil War batteries on headlands to the north east in Toll's Porth and to the south and south west, on Newford Island and around the Garrison.

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: 15383

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
O'Neil, BH St J, Ancient Monuments of the Isles of Scilly, (1949)
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 7430, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9011 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