Prehistoric enclosure south east of The Brow, Bryher


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric enclosure south east of The Brow, Bryher
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Isles of Scilly (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SV 88088 14429

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.

Within the landscape of the Isles of Scilly there are many discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth. From their various environmental settings, associations and distinctive manners of construction, they can be shown to derive from a range of activities dating over the considerable period from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) to the present day. They were commonly constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing, sometimes accommodating settlement sites within or adjacent to their walls. In some cases enclosures form detached field plots complementing nearby field systems by extending the enclosed land into isolated pockets of usable ground. The size and form of enclosures may therefore vary considerably depending on their particular date and function. This variation in form, setting and relationship to other monument classes provides valuable information on the organisation of economic activity and land division among the communities that built and used them. Of those enclosures not maintained by virtue of remaining currently in use, a substantial proportion are worthy of protection. This enclosure near The Brow survives well; the upper shore deposits affecting its north western end overlie and preserve its structure rather than disrupt it. Its form and mode of construction are clear and it is unusual in preserving its direct association with a contemporary trackway. Its extensive survival well into the inter-tidal zone, despite rising sea levels, confirms its long term stability against a considerable period of submergence. It complements the prehistoric field system and settlement survivals at various levels around southern Bryher to provide an unusually complete view of prehistoric land allotment across the altitude range into the now-submerged zone. Consequently this enclosure is important for the study of prehistoric land-use responses to island environments. The proximity of the enclosure to the cairn cemetery on Samson Hill also demonstrates the relationship between farming, funerary and ritual activities among the prehistoric communities that used this monument.


The monument includes a prehistoric enclosure in the inter-tidal zone south east of a slight bulge in the coastline called The Brow at the southern end of Green Bay on eastern Bryher in the Isles of Scilly. The enclosure walling survives as an almost continuous row of boulders and slabs, to 1.1m long, 1m wide and 0.9m high, some of which are edge-set. The walls define a subrectangular interior measuring 27m long, north west - south east, by up to 8m wide. The wall across the south east end of the enclosure has a gap 1.3m wide beside the southern corner. From this gap, two slighter boulder walls run for a further 22m following parallel courses, 2m apart, initially to the south east then curving down the slight gradient to the ESE, defining a prehistoric trackway linking the enclosure with the pre-submergence valley floor. The enclosure's visible north western extent is determined by the points at which its walls become masked beneath a raised band of beach cobbles that extends into the middle shore from The Brow. This enclosure and its adjacent trackway form the southerly known exposure of an extensive area of prehistoric land division in the now-submerged zone of Green Bay. Other exposures beyond this scheduling include a field system and linear boundary in the central and northern parts of the bay, from 200m to the north west of this scheduling, which are separated by areas whose prehistoric land surface is now largely masked by the shore sand and shingle overburden. Other broadly contemporary features in the vicinity of this scheduling include hut circles in the inter-tidal zone, 50m to the south west, and exposed in the cliff face on the east coast of Samson Hill, 115m to the SSW. The summit of Samson Hill, overlooking this scheduling from the south west, contains a prehistoric cairn cemetery. The inter-tidal remains which include this scheduling in Green Bay are complemented on the south west coast of Bryher by another prehistoric field system and settlement surviving in Great Porth and extending over the Heathy Hill promontory. 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A CAU, Fieldwork in Scilly Autumn 1990, (1991)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7305, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7386, (1988)
Ratcliffe, J/CAU, Scilly SMR entries PRN 7307.01 & 7682, (1991)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps; SV 8714 & 8814 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

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