Civil War battery on The Green, Bryher
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010176
Date first listed: 08-Feb-1995
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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)
National Grid Reference: SV 87887 14607
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'
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
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 on The Green survives as an integral part of the largely intact system of Civil War defences around the Isles of Scilly, despite some damage to its eastern and western sectors by modern activity. 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 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 performed a key role.
The monument includes a gun battery dating to the English Civil War and situated on The Green, bordering the curving shoreline of Green Bay on the east coast of Bryher in the Isles of Scilly.
The battery is visible with an internal area defined to the north and south by two parallel banks of sand on an east-west axis, 8.8m apart, up to 2.5m wide and 0.25m high. Each bank has an outer ditch, up to 2.7m wide and 0.2m deep. The earthwork defences and interior of the battery extend to a visible east west width of 6m, truncated as surface features to each side by modern rutted tracks, 1.75m wide, on a NNW-SSE axis. A modern electricity cable trench also extends along the course of the western track, its cutting in 1985 confirming the entirely sand composition of the banks. The ditch of the battery and the interior deposits are considered to extend as sub-surface features beyond these tracks, their extent being indicated by the depiction of this battery as an `old reboubt' on a map of 1792, showing it as almost square with sides 9m long and with circular gun emplacements or buttresses at the corners.
In addition to its surviving physical remains and the early map depiction, this battery was also mentioned by the antiquary Borlase in 1756. In 1796, it was recorded by Troutbeck, who confirmed its Civil War date, attributing it to the Parliamentarian forces.
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 one of only two Civil War batteries on Bryher and was sited to control the southern strait between Bryher and Tresco, one of the principal approaches into the islands from the north west. In this role, it complements Bryher's other Civil War battery, 570m to the south on Works Point, whose field of fire ranged further south east and south, controlling the southern end of the Bryher-Tresco strait and the waters between Bryher and Samson.
The modern electricity cable and its cable trench and the surface of the modern sea defence bank are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.
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: 15399
Legacy System: RSM
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7387, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 81 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8714 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing