Civil War battery 150m WNW of Church Point, St Mary's
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1011928
Date first listed: 04-May-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)
Parish: St. Mary's
National Grid Reference: SV 92133 09983
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'
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 islands.
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 near Church Point has survived reasonably well, despite losing some of its interior due to encroachment by the coastal cliff. 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. This is also well illustrated by the surviving series of complementary batteries around this important bay, of which 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 situated
near Church Point on the southern coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.
The battery survives with a turf-covered earthen bank, up to 2.7m wide and
0.4m high, whose 15m length curves across a broad, shallow projection of the
coastal cliff to demarcate the landward, north eastern, side of the battery.
The resulting level internal area of the battery extends up to 4m south west
of the bank, having been truncated to some degree subsequent to the battery's
construction by coastal erosion. An entrance gap, surviving 0.5m wide, is
located between the north western terminal of the bank and the present coastal
cliff, which again has encroached on the originally wider entrance.
This battery near Church Point commanded the north eastern entrance to the
broad bay between Peninnis Head and Church Point on southern St Mary's. This
bay was of economic importance on Scilly during the Civil War as at the centre
of its shoreline was Old Town, one of the principal settlements and harbours
on the main populated island of St Mary's, the military and administrative
focus of the Isles of Scilly during the Civil War. This importance is
reflected in the bay's defence by a surviving series of contemporary batteries
with complementary fields of fire, located on successive promontories around
the bay, together with lengths of bank, called breastwork, along parts of the
inlets. This monument forms the north eastern part of that defensive
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: 15347
Legacy System: RSM
consulted 1994, Parkes, C. & Waters, A./CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7415; 7555; 7556; 7651, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C./CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7651, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 90 NW Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map: SX 07/17, Pathfinder 1338, Bodmin Moor (West) Source Date: 1988 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