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Prehistoric funerary, ritual and settlement remains; post-medieval defences, tin mine, lookouts and enclosures on Castle Down, Tresco

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Prehistoric funerary, ritual and settlement remains; post-medieval defences, tin mine, lookouts and enclosures on Castle Down, Tresco

List entry Number: 1017783

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Isles of Scilly

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Tresco

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 27-Jun-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Mar-1998

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15515

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

This monument contains good surviving remains from nearly all phases of prehistoric and post-medieval activity on Castle Down, showing clearly the distinctive and varied succession of land uses applied to this elevated heathland terrain. The scale of survival of the prehistoric remains on Castle Down is also sufficiently extensive to allow significant insights into wider organisation of the landscape during that early period. The earliest features provide valuable evidence for the nature of religious and settlement activity among prehistoric communities. The cemetery contains one of the largest and most concentrated known groupings of funerary cairns whose proximity and similarity to another such cemetery on the northern heathland of Bryher emphasises the importance of landforms in the physical organisation of prehistoric funerary activity. This is demonstrated in even more detail by the non-random distribution of the cemetery's cairns across Castle Down and by the prominent siting of large cairns with funerary structures along the Down's eastern skyline. The stone rows and embanked boulder on the margins of the cemetery are unusual prehistoric ritual monuments, especially rare on Scilly. The prehistoric field systems show an unusually clear successive relationship with the cairn cemetery and again demonstrate the influence of the underlying topography and aspect in the courses of linear boundaries on the higher plateau and in the locations of finer subdivision, with field systems encroaching onto the south of the plateau and up the coastal slopes on the south west and on the east where the hut circle settlement emphasises the former importance of fertile land in the now submerged basin of Gimble Porth which was overlooked by the Down's prominently-sited large cairns. The post-medieval defences also survive well as integral parts of the wider defensive systems deployed around the Isles of Scilly in their respective phases, illustrating by their form and position the developing strategic methods. The detailed form of angle-bastions in the earthen artillery defence across Castle Down show it to be nationally one of the earliest expressions of this defensive design. The lack of economic success of the 17th century tin mine on Castle Down has left it intact, unmodified by later works; as a result it provides an especially clear example of the various extractive methods employed at that time.

History

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

Details

The monument includes prehistoric and post-medieval remains surviving extensively on Castle Down, the northern upland of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. A prehistoric cairn cemetery encompasses much of the Down's plateau; on its northern margins are two prehistoric stone rows and an embanked boulder. Prehistoric field systems occur on the south west and north east of the Down, that on the north east containing five hut circles. Post-medieval remains on Castle Down include 16th-17th century defences, a 17th century tin mine, an 18th-19th century lookout and seven platforms and enclosures. The prehistoric cemetery contains at least 95 funerary cairns, most densely scattered in a broad band over the north and east of the Down, veering to the western crest at the south. Almost all of the largest cairns are prominently sited along the Down's eastern crest and its northward rise at Tregarthen Hill. Eighty-one are small platform cairns whose turf-covered mounds, mostly 5m-8m in diameter and 0.3m-0.7m high, have flattened upper surfaces whose perimeter is often defined by a kerb of small slabs. There are seven round cairns, similar to the platform cairns but with a domed upper surface; only the largest, 11m in diameter and 1.3m high, is kerbed. Seven cairns have internal funerary structures and form a prominent linear group: five over Tregarthen Hill and two to the south east, widely spaced along the Down's eastern crest. The northern two incorporate natural outcrops and have small slab-built structures called cists behind their northern kerbs. The others show remains of large funerary chambers, clearest in the central of the southern three on Tregarthen Hill where edge-set and coursed slabs define a chamber interior covered by two slabs laid across the top. On the west of the Down's northern basin is a prehistoric ritual embanked boulder: a massive natural boulder enclosed by a rubble bank. Two prehistoric stone rows extend from the north of the cairn cemetery and are visible over roughly 100m as straight north west-south east alignments of upright slabs about 10m apart. One runs north west onto Gun Hill; the other, 200m to the east, runs north west from the NNW scarp of Tregarthen Hill. The prehistoric field systems are later than cairns wherever a successive relationship is evident. Their turf-covered banks often have regularly spaced projecting slabs. Along the contour, the banks' effect on soil movement transforms them into substantial steps across the slope called lynchets. On the south west, a linear boundary along the west of the plateau defines the field system's limit onto the Down. To its south west, between Frenchman's Point and Braiden Rock, lower slope lynchets cross several prehistoric walls running upslope, some partly reused in a block of post-medieval fields. On the south of the plateau, the linear boundary is crossed and interrupted by a block of small rectilinear plots partly enclosed by a curving bank. On the north east of the Down, boundaries extend north west from the south west flank of Tregarthen Hill and SSE around its southern slopes. Others cross the upper and lower southern slope of Castle Down Brow: the lower boundary joins short downslope banks from fields now truncated by Gimble Porth and links four hut circles, 40m-60m apart and levelled on rubble platforms that also support small plots and annexes beside the hut circles. Three field plots occupy this irregular terrain: one across the saddle of Castle Down Brow with a fifth hut circle to its north; a small plot on the tip of the Brow; and a large square plot in the trough north of Tregarthen Hill, its banks crossing nine cairns and re-siting their slighted kerb slabs into its wall line. In AD 1550-1554 an artillery castle, `King Charles' Castle', was built beyond this scheduling on the Down's north west crest. Soon after, an earthen artillery defence was laid out within this scheduling across the landward approach to the north of the Down. The defence survives as a low bank, with a ditch along parts of its southern flank, from near the artillery fort on the west to near Tregarthen Hill on the east. At the centre of the plateau it defines a large angled projection, called a bastion, pointing south, from which banks extend north east and north west, outlining half-bastions on the plateau crest at each side. During the English Civil War, defences were added to cover channels west and east of the Down. On the west these include two platforms 20m apart behind Castle Porth, with curved banks on their forward edges. On the east at Castle Down Brow, a low breastwork bank follows the cliff top, faced to seaward by edge-set slabs. On the Brow's north east coast, this bank is backed by a rectangular gun battery; further north west, behind the bank's return from the cliff edge to meet the Brow's northern cliff, a small gun platform faces NNE. A small shelter in a nearby cliff face cleft may derive from this Civil War activity. The 1640s brought the only major mining of Scilly's sparse tin resource, working poor tin lodes aligned WSW-ENE across northern Castle Down. Mining had ceased by 1652 when it was described as of no value. Two prospecting methods are evident. In one, short rows of small pits were dug across the projected line of the lode to establish its course. In the other, water from a reservoir on the north of the plateau was released to flush away surface deposits and expose bedrock in a coastal valley behind Cork Porth. The reservoir's earth dam has a central sluice gate gap facing a gully running north into the valley, enlarging as it descends as a 65m long stepped channel called a hush. On locating the lode, miners dug directly into it from the surface. Where the coastal slope intersects the lode at each end, this gave long trenches called openworks stepped down the slope. Extraction on the plateau was by rectangular pits called lode-back pits, closely spaced along the main lode over the east of the Down, becoming infrequent further west. Exploitation of a second lode to the north west produced a broad openwork and short row of lode-back pits above Gun Well. At Beacon Hill, on the south of Castle Down, is an 18th-19th century lookout: a raised platform, 1.2m high, with rough masonry walls 5.9m long. Its walling includes remains of an earlier lookout which was recorded in ruins in 1796, to be modified as the present platform in the Napoleonic Wars (1794-1815). Three rectangular levelled platforms, up to 6m long, are spaced over 130m of the north crest of the Down east from Gun Hill; their form and siting on good viewpoints suggest origin as post-medieval lookout, signal or gun positions; the low walling of one platform contains some slabs split by wedges, denoting a date prior to AD 1800. A larger walled enclosure, 8.4m long, occupies another good viewpoint on south eastern Tregarthen Hill. Other post-medieval enclosures include a square field plot behind Castle Porth, probably serving Cromwell's Castle. In the Down's northern basin is a large rectangular enclosure with an inner bank and outer ditch, while a smaller enclosure at the foot of the south west slope of Tregarthen Hill has an inner ditch and an outer bank, resembling platforms used to store turf for fuel in Cornwall.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1756)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Saunders, A D, Fortress Britain, (1989)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
Quinnell, N V, 'Cornish Archaeology' in A 16th century outwork to King Charles' Castle, Tresco, , Vol. 17, (1978), 142-3
Quinnell, N V, 'Cornish Archaeology' in The Borlase Stone Altar, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, , Vol. 17, (1978), 140-141
Saunders, A D, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Harry's Walls, St Mary's Scilly; a new interpretation, , Vol. 1, (1962), 85-91
Other
Parkes, C, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.14, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7280, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7280.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7280.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7280.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.14, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.15, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.16, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.17, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.18, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.19, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.20, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.21, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.22, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.23, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.25, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.26, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.27, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.28, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.29, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.30, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.31, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7281.32, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7282.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7283.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7283.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7283.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7283.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7284, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7285, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7285.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7285.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7286, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7287, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7288, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7290, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7291, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7292.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7292.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7297, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7298, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.15, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.16, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.17, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.18, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.19, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.20, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.21, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.22, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.23, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.24, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.25, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.26, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.27, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.28, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.29, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.30, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7300.31, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7355, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7356.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7356.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7356.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7356.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7357.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7358, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7360.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7361.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7361.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7361.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7361.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7637, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR PRN 7281.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7282; 7282.01; 7285.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7285.01-.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7355, 7357.08 & 7358, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 81 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, Cornwall sheet LXXXII:14 Source Date: 1888 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXII: 10 Source Date: 1888 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXII: 10 Source Date: 1888 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXII: 14 Source Date: 1888 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8815 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SV 88472 15755

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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