Late 19th-early 20th century defended barracks and caretaker block at Greystones, The Garrison, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014785

Date first listed: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Late 19th-early 20th century defended barracks and caretaker block at Greystones, The Garrison, 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 89795 10281


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.

The distinctive form of earthwork defences developed at the end of the 19th century differed fundamentally from the high-profile fortifications around earlier strongpoints and provided the first application of principles that came to dominate the design of such defences in the 20th century. Their design and location reflects major developments in armament technology, strategic thought, the nature of the perceived threat and defensive policy. By the mid 1880s, technological advances had considerably improved the accuracy and range of guns, their speed of fire and manoeuvrability. The development of new range-finding equipment and electrical communications increased the speed and accuracy of target position-finding and the control and coordination of armament. These developments revolutionised the nature of field fortification considered appropriate to defend artillery batteries and other key positions. Priority was given to low profile earthwork defences which were hard to target by the new long-range artillery while allowing the defensive guns maximum manoeuvrability; defence against close quarters ground approach was provided by the newly-developed barbed wire entanglements reinforced by machine-gun and rifle cover across the unobstructed fields of fire provided by the low ramparts. Early applications of these new principles of fortification were made in the later 1880s in the context of infantry reboubts in south east England, their form characterised as the `Twydall Profile'. During the 1890s variants and developments of the Twydall Profile dominated new land fortifications for infantry and artillery, providing a major influence on the design of the defences constructed on the Isles of Scilly during its 1898-1906 phase of fortification.

The defended barracks and caretakers' quarters with associated PF cell at Greystones survive well, preserving the original form of their earthwork and built structures with only minor modifications. The intact survival of such quarters and its ancillary buildings from this phase is rare, but this monument is particularly unusual in the enclosure of those quarters within their own distinct circuit of earthwork defences, separate from the gun batteries of the fortification system. The design of those earthworks and their associated features provide valuable information on the development of modern fortifications. The monument is an integral part of a contemporary defensive system whose other related components also survive well. Spatially, the rare survival of such a complete defensive system allows the relationships of its components to be studied against contemporary armament capabilities and the strategic methods by which those defences were intended to be used, in the controlled background of a single location. The defensive system to which this monument contributed was directly inspired by considerations of national defence; as such it also has a wider historical importance whose immediate context is defined by the national defence reviews which led to the implementation and later the abandonment of the naval base which these defences were designed to protect.


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


The monument includes a barracks, caretakers' quarters and position-finding cell, all enclosed within earthwork defences on the south west of the summit plateau of The Garrison, the south western promontory of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The quarters were built between 1898 and 1901, serving two nearby and contemporary gun batteries, the Steval and Woolpack Batteries. This monument and the batteries formed part of a defensive system designed to protect a naval signalling and re-fuelling station then being established on the Isles of Scilly. These defences remained operational until 1906, with limited reuse of the batteries during World War II. The monument was constructed with a central caretakers' quarters, capable of conversion to a barracks, served by wood and coal stores and earth closets housed in ancillary buildings around the periphery of the monument interior. A position-finding post was also built into the south west of the rampart. The internal buildings are contained within a subrectangular defensive enclosure with rounded corners, visible as an outer and inner rampart separated by a broad ditch. The monument's earthwork defences measure up to 85m north east-south west by 75m north west-south east externally. The outer rampart is 4.8m wide, rising c.1m from the external ground surface and descending c.1.2m along its inner face to the floor of the ditch. Part of the outer rampart's north east side has been levelled by modern garden landscaping. The ditch is flat-bottomed, 7.3m wide at the base and ranging from 13m-17m wide from crest to crest of its defining ramparts. The ditch was designed to be filled with barbed wire entanglements secured by retaining spikes. The outer limit of those entanglements was marked by a fence supported by metal stanchions along the outer lip of the ditch; the sawn-off stanchion bases of this fence, which appears on early maps of the monument, still survive, including along the north east sector where the adjacent outer rampart has been levelled. The long outer slope of the inner rampart rises 3m from the base of the ditch to its crest, which defines the monument's subrectangular interior measuring 42m north east-south west by up to 33m north west-south east. The inner slope of the inner rampart descends 2.4m to the interior surface, with buildings around the periphery of the interior levelled into the rampart slope along parts of each side; the inner slope's profile is also stepped by a broad terrace for much of its length. The entrance through the defences is on the north east, by a track through breaks in the ramparts and a causeway over the ditch. A formal gate was inserted in the inner rampart break, its sides neatly revetted by granite walling accompanied by granite gateposts. Metal fittings also survive on the revetment walls for former higher-level obstructions above the gate. Occupying the centre of the interior is a caretakers' and barrack block, large, flat roofed and faced with granite. The block has a subrectangular plan, up to 22m long, north east-south west, by 8.5m wide with projecting wings at each end of its south east face separated by a central verandah. This building was subdivided into two married quarters which shared kitchen and washing facilities, but was designed for easy conversion into a barracks for 24 men and two NCOs in time of war. That central block is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included. Flat-roofed brick-built ancillary buildings are levelled into the inner slope of the inner rampart around the interior's periphery. On the north west, these include a long narrow range which housed the earth closets for both sexes, still retaining some original fittings, together with an earth store and stores for coal and wood. Shorter rectangular buildings housed further storage space on the north east and south east sides of the interior. On the south west side of the interior, a position-finding (PF) cell was built into the inner rampart's inner slope and crest. The cell is a small two-storey concrete-faced structure, c.5m long, NNE-SSW, by c.3m wide externally. Its upper storey projects slightly above the rampart crest, leaving an observation slit, now glazed, facing SSW beneath the roof's shallow forward pitch. The lower storey communications room is sunken below the barracks interior ground level. The NNE rear wall of the PF cell is recessed into the rampart slope which is revetted to each side by concrete facing. In the rear wall is a door to each storey, one above the other; the upper door is reached by its original metal stairframe retaining its metal railings. The panelled lower door is reached by concrete steps descending from ground level. This PF cell was built in or shortly after 1901, following completion of most of this monument and the two nearby batteries with which it operated. Its function was to determine target location and range; this information was then relayed to batteries' guns by electric telegraph. It also operated in conjunction with searchlight emplacements on the coast at Woolpack and Steval Points, together with their observation posts on the coastal slopes above them, all coordinated by telegraph cable links. The PF cell in this monument replaced the earlier technology of Watkins depression range-finders initially mounted on raised positions in each battery. The Garrison's commanding position made it the focus for successive phases of fortification on Scilly from the later 16th century. In the 1890s, a joint army and navy review of the nation's coastal defences proposed the Isles of Scilly should become an advanced naval signalling and re-fuelling station, to be classed as a defended port, in view of their strategic position against perceived threats from French Atlantic naval bases. Implementation of these proposals between 1898 and 1901 produced a fortification system whose chief components were two complementary 6-inch gun batteries, the Steval Battery to the north west and the Woolpack Battery to the south east, to cover the deep water approach to the islands, served by the defended barracks/caretakers' quarters in this monument between them. The similar defences provided for the barracks and the batteries reflect the latest fortification designs and technology available at the time, their low profile rendering them difficult to locate and target by distant enemy gunners while the use of barbed wire entanglements in the concealed ditch provided control against close approach. By 1902, the 6-inch gun batteries were felt to give inadequate defence against motor torpedo boat attack; a proposed third 6-inch gun battery was abandoned in favour of two 12-pounder quick-firing gun batteries, one above Steval Point, 200m WNW of this monument, the other at Bant's Carn on the north west coast of St Mary's. The completed system of fortifications in which this monument operated also included the searchlight emplacements and observation posts mentioned above at Woolpack and Steval Points, together with their electricity supply generator housed in an 18th century battery between them. An artificer's workshop for the maintenance of the batteries' guns and mountings survives on the summit of The Garrison, 85m east of this monument. During construction of these fortifications, national defence policy underwent a radical shift. German power replaced that of France as the dominant threat, a re-orientation strengthened by the signing of the Entente Cordiale in 1904. In the resulting re-alignment of the nation's defences to the east, detailed in the Owen Report of 1905, the Isles of Scilly were abandoned as a naval station and, with little commercial importance, they also lost their defended port status. Consequently, though the defences had been used for coastal defence training, their guns were dismantled in 1906 and by 1910 had been removed for storage in Falmouth. The central building of the barracks and caretakers' block, all modern fences and garden furniture, the garden pond and chicken runs are excluded from this scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 15438

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Saunders, A D, Fortress Britain, (1989)
Saunders, A D, Fortress Britain, (1989)
Stevenson, I V, Some West Country Defences, (1989), 11-26
Letter dated 3/11/1993, J Guy, Fortress Study Group, Letter to J Ratcliffe, CAU, re, defences on Scilly, 1902-1910, (1993)
Measured/drawn 19/12/1901, now in PRO, Edwards, H, Scilly Islands Steval and Woolpack Batteries Caretakers Quarters, (1901)
Parkes, C/CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7908, (1994)
Parkes, C/CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7908.05, (1994)
Parkes, C/CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7909, (1994)
Report for Cons SW, Feb 1994, Linzey, R and EH Architecture Branch, Recs for Incr Statutory Protectn to Woolpack & Steval Batteries, Cons SW, (1994)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8910 Source Date: 1981 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map, No. 25: Isles of Scilly Source Date: 1982 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing