Prehistoric field system and settlement north of Appletree Point, Tresco


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


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric field system and settlement north of Appletree Point, Tresco
© 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 88838 14480

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 prehistoric field system and settlement north of Appletree Point survives reasonably well. The field boundaries and the hut circles clearly display their manner of construction and show well their pattern of integration with each other. Unusual features include the length of trackway and the hut circle annexe. Despite minor displacements by wave action the extensive survival of the field system and settlement well into the inter-tidal zone confirms their overall long term stability against a considerable period of submergence. The wider land use context contemporary with their use is well illustrated by the other prehistoric field system survivals nearby and the cairn group on Abbey Hill.


The monument includes prehistoric field boundaries and a hut circle settlement on the middle shore north of Appletree Point on the west coast of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. The prehistoric boundaries are visible as rows of closely-spaced or continuous slabs and small boulders, frequently set on edge with their long axis usually along the wall line. The slabs are generally 0.3m-0.5m long and 0.3m-0.5m high but include edge-set slabs over 1m long and 0.75m high. The visible boundaries include a slightly wavering north east-south west wall extending for at least 65m across the middle shore; its north east end fades as a visible feature between the hut circles of the settlement, described below, but from 10m beyond them a second wall appears, built largely of small boulders and extending for 14m east-west. Further east, another short exposure of walling runs north-south. Adjacent to the west of the hut circles, two near-parallel walls, 2m-3m apart, run NNW-SSE for at least 15m, converging on the north east part of the long wall and considered to define a short length of trackway. The settlement closely associated with these boundaries includes at least two hut circles, 10m apart on an ESE-WNW axis and flanking each side of the long north east-south west wall at its north east end. Each has a sub- circular wall of closely-spaced boulders and edge-set slabs, generally 0.5m wide and 0.4m high, defining a rounded interior in which is a low spread of rubble washed in since the settlement's submergence. The WNW hut circle is 6m in internal diameter and located adjacent to the eastern wall of the trackway. The ESE hut circle is 4m in internal diameter; in its north eastern wall line are two large slabs, each over 1m long but fallen flat, considered to have originally flanked an entrance gap approximately 1.2m wide; a small rounded annexe, 3m wide and defined by similar walling, adjoins its ESE side. The ESE hut circle is linked to the nearby boundaries by two low walls: one runs north from 1m north of the hut circle to the west end of the east-west wall; the other defines a small plot, 9m wide, extending approximately 15m south west from the hut circle and against the south east side of the long north east- south west boundary. Beyond this scheduling, further exposures of prehistoric field system remains occur to the south in Appletree Bay, and a broadly contemporary group of funerary cairns is located at the top of the adjacent coastal slope to the east, on Abbey Hill.

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:


Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7309.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7309.02, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 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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