Prehistoric field system, hut circle and middens on southern Annet


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014997

Date first listed: 04-Oct-1996


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric field system, hut circle and middens on southern Annet
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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. Agnes

National Grid Reference: SV 86342 08429


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. Regular field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in the Isles of Scilly from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC - AD 400); closer dating within that period may be provided by the visible relationships of the field boundaries to other classes of monument with a shorter known time-span of use, or by their relationship with an earlier recorded sea level. They comprise a collection of field plots defined by boundaries laid out in a consistent manner, along two dominant axes at approximate right angles to each other. This results in rectilinear fields which may vary in their size and length:width ratio both within and between individual field systems. The fields are bounded by rubble walls or banks, often incorporating edge- or end- set slabs called orthostats. Within its total area, a regular field system may be subdivided into blocks differing in the orientations of their dominant axes. Regular field systems may be associated with broadly contemporary settlement sites such as stone hut circles. Some regular field systems on the Isles of Scilly contain a distinctive association, rarely encountered elsewhere, whereby certain of their field boundaries directly incorporate or link cairns, entrance graves and cists in some groups of prehistoric funerary monuments. Although no precise figure is available, regular field systems form one of the three principal forms of prehistoric field system, along with irregular field systems and some groups of prehistoric linear boundaries, which survive in over 70 areas of the Isles of Scilly. They provide significant insights into the physical and social organisation of past landscapes and they provide evidence for the wider contemporary context within which other nationally important monuments were constructed.

The close grouping of prehistoric settlement features in this monument survives well, with no recorded excavation. The prehistoric finds from the surfaces of the monument's middens confirm their early date, their contents forming a valuable survival of evidence relating to the island's prehistoric land use. Their value is much increased by the survival in this monument of the broadly contemporary habitation sites and field system, providing the settlement context within which the middens accumulated. The disposition of the monument's features also shows well the detailed level of influence of natural landscape features on the organisation of prehistoric activities, both in the consistent siting of the middens with reference to successive coastal outcrops and in the use of natural outcrops as sighting points for the field system walls. Although some adjacent prehistoric settlement areas have been submerged by rising sea levels, evidence for the wider land use context of which this monument formed part is provided by the island's other prehistoric settlement and funerary monuments.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric field system with at least one adjacent hut circle and two middens of occupation debris on the southern peninsula of Annet, an uninhabited island in the south west of the Isles of Scilly. The field system is defined by walls visible as single rows of boulders, up to 1.4m wide and 0.4m high, slightly spaced apart along the wall line and well embedded in a thick turf which fully covers several of the boulders. Three walls define the south, east and north sides of a small subrectangular plot on the northern slope of the island's southern peninsula. The plot measures 70m long, north-south, and survives up to 45m east-west; its southern wall is aligned on and ends by a natural coastal outcrop at the west called Carn Windlass while the north east corner of the plot is located at a much slighter outcrop lower down the slope; the western edge of the plot is truncated by the present shoreline north of Carn Windlass. A fourth wall extends for 25m south east from the plot's south east corner. A hut circle is located on the eastern slope of Carn Windlass, close to the western end of the plot's southern wall. Engulfed by deep turf, it is visible as having an ovoid interior levelled 0.8m into the slope and measuring 6m north-south by 4m east-west. On the west it is defined by the levelling backscarp, on whose crest occasional spaced slabs protrude through the turf; the east side is defined by a turf-covered bank 1m wide and 0.5m high; a gap at the north may mark an entrance facing into the plot. About 15m to the south west, a second hut circle has previously been recorded, 6m in diameter with boulder and slab faced walling. Coastal erosion has revealed part of a midden of prehistoric occupation debris on the old land surface by the south west of the Carn Windlass outcrop. The exposed part of the midden extends over an area of 12m by 6m but its fuller extent is masked beneath a deep thrift turf; the bulk of its volume comprises limpet shells but previous records of surface finds from this midden include numerous flint artefacts, prehistoric pottery and bones of fish, birds, sheep and cattle. A second prehistoric midden is located adjacent to the next coastal outcrop south of Carn Windlass. This midden is visible over 15m north-south, delimited on the north by the outcrop, and 9m east-west, truncated on the west by the rocky shoreline. The fabric of this midden is also dominated by limpet shells, in a dark sandy soil with some shells of other marine molluscs. Surface finds from this midden include a number of prehistoric flint and chert artefacts and fragments of Bronze Age pottery. Near the southern end of the midden's area, erosion has revealed a line of beach cobbles embedded in the midden fabric, extending east-west and visible for 2.75m, considered to derive from a largely masked internal structure. Beyond this monument, a third prehistoric midden is located by the north west side of West Porth and another length of prehistoric walling is visible near the western tip of Annet; a Bronze Age kerbed cairn is also sited near the summit of the island's north west hill, 530m to the north west of this monument. All of these archaeological features are the subjects of separate schedulings.

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: 15449

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1756)
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1977)
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1977)
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1976)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7048, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7050, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.02, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing