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Civil War breastwork and battery on the north coast of Normandy Down, St Mary's

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Civil War breastwork and battery on the north coast of Normandy Down, St Mary's

List entry Number: 1011941


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Isles of Scilly

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: St. Mary's

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-May-1995

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15372

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 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.

The Civil War breastwork and battery in this monument have survived substantially intact, despite the truncation by coastal erosion of the outer edge of the battery. 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 both breastworks and batteries within them. These methods are also well illustrated by the complementary relationship of this monument to the other surviving breastworks and batteries along the north east coast of St Mary's.


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


The monument includes a length of defensive bank and ditch, called a breastwork and dating to the English Civil War, which extends along the northern coastal cliff of Normandy Down on the eastern side of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. Near the centre of the breastwork is a small Civil War gun battery.

The breastwork survives as an earth and rubble bank, up to 2.5m wide, rising to 1m high on its outer face and to 0.4m high on the inner face. The sides of the breastwork bank form steep scarps reflecting their stone facing, called a revetment, of which occasional slabs, some tumbled from their original positions, are visible through the turf cover along each side. The breastwork ditch, 1m-2m wide and up to 0.5m deep, is along the landward side of the bank. The breastwork extends on an almost straight ENE-WSW course, running immediately behind the coastal cliff for 120m along the northern coast of Normandy Down from the edge of the coastal outcrops behind Gap Point at the east to the north westward curve in the cliff above the erosion hollow called Darrity's Hole at the west.

The battery is located almost at the centre of the breastwork, and is defined to each side by a sharp angle northwards in the breastwork bank, accompanied by a break in the breastwork ditch across the rear of the resulting trapezoidal battery platform. The battery measures 6m wide, east-west, across its base between the angles of the breastwork bank, and survives to a depth of 3m north-south to the line along which its northern edge has been truncated by the eroding cliff edge.

The breastwork and battery in this monument 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 breastwork in this monument provides cover over this relatively low-lying portion of coastal cliff behind Gap Point while the battery's field of fire complements that of other examples in analogous locations on successive headlands along the north east coast of St Mary's from Mount Todden Down to Bar Point, together with a large battery on Toll's Island.

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.

Selected Sources

consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7235, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7423 & 7423.02, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 SW Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SV 93063 11280


© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1011941 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2018 at 06:41:45.

End of official listing