Chapel remains, cemetery and prehistoric settlement on Beacon Hill, Lundy


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016040

Date first listed: 17-Jun-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jun-1998


Ordnance survey map of Chapel remains, cemetery and prehistoric settlement on Beacon Hill, Lundy
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Torridge (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SS 13226 44251


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

Reasons for Designation

Lundy is a small, steep sided island in the Bristol Channel, 16m north of Hartland Point, north Devon. Aligned north-south, it is 6km long by 1km wide and supports a predominately moorland vegetation. The 100m high cliffs and tabular form give it a striking appearance, visible in clear weather from parts of south west England and south Wales. Lundy's remoteness and (until the 19th century construction of the Beach Road) its inaccessibility, combined with a lack of shelter and cultivable soils, has meant that it has escaped more recent occupation or development. It therefore preserves a remarkable variety of archaeological sites from early prehistory (c.8000 BC) onwards, representing evidence for habitation, fortification, farming and industry. There are also archaeological remains in the waters surrounding the island - over 150 shipwrecks are already recorded. Most of the island's archaeology is well documented from detailed survey in the 1980s and 1990s.

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597 monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Early monasteries were built to house communities of monks of nuns; sometimes houses were `mixed' and included both sexes. The main buildings provided facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. They included a series of timber halls and perhaps a stone church, all located within some form of enclosure. Those sites which have been excavated indicate that no standard layout of buildings was in use. Rather a great diversity in building form, construction, arrangement and function is evident. Preconquest monastic sites are rare nationally and fewer than 100 sites have been recognised from documentary sources. The locations of less than half of these have been confirmed. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of the introduction of Christianity into the country. All examples exhibiting survival of archaeological remains will be identified as nationally important. This enclosure, together with remains of an early medieval memorial shrine and associated graves and the memorial stone of sub-Roman Christians, is a remarkable survival, part excavation demonstrating the quality of surviving remains. Much of the graveyard is unexcavated and here the remains of the early church and monastic buildings as well as further evidence of early Christian burial practices and religious observance, are likely to survive. In addition, the remains of a part excavated Iron Age hut circle show that much of the settlement site, both within and beyond the enclosure, is preserved with many features intact. The ground below and around these features will yield evidence of the environment at the time the settlement was in occupation as well as the subsequent occupation of the site in the early medieval period.


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


The monument includes an irregular oval enclosed burial ground on the summit of Beacon Hill within and beyound which are the remains of a prehistoric hut circle settlement. The walls on the north west, north and north east sides of the enclosure are stone walls constructed by Trinity House as part of the enclosure of the buildings ancillary to what is now called The Old Lighthouse. These walls follow the line of an ancient enclosure for the burial ground. On the south west side the enclave is formed by a bank and ditch which are early medieval in date and this can be traced on the south east side as a low earthwork in the field adjacent to the present enclosure. Within the burial ground are the remains of a small, rectangular, medieval chapel which may have been dedicated to St Helen, Elene or Endelient. The remains include the foundations, exposed by part excavation along the east and south walls, and up to four courses of stone. The chapel was a ruin in c.1600 and has been damaged by the insertion of more recent graves. The chapel was partly excavated in 1968 and this revealed that its remains do not overlie any earlier church or chapel structure. Excavation also revealed that part of the graveyard overlies the remains of an Iron Age settlement which covers a wider area on the summit of Beacon Hill. At least one large hut was uncovered and a quantity of pottery and a quern were found. The excavation confirmed the presence of other hut circles and enclosures to the west of the cemetery boundary. In the centre and west side of the burial ground are the excavated remains of an early Christian shrine which had associated graves. It was from here that the earliest graves and four memorial stones originate. These were discovered on the site at various times and date back to the fifth-seventh centuries, AD. Subsequent burials are of medieval and post-medieval date. The graves include those of the families of the owners of the island in the 19th and 20th centuries. The slabs which covered some of the early graves can still be seen in the void left by the excavation. The four early stone memorials have been placed against the bank on the south west side of the enclosure. The Trinity House walls on the northern and eastern sides of the cemetery are not included in the 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: 30351

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994), 163-182
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994), 163-82
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994), 163-82
Thomas, C, 'Lundy Field Society Annual Report' in Lundy Field Society , (1968)
Thomas, C, 'Lundy Field Society Annual Report' in Lundy Field Society , (1968)
Thackray C, National Trust SMR, (1989)
Thackray, C, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, (1989)
Thackray, C, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, (1989)
Thackray, C, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, (1989)

End of official listing