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Prehistoric linear boundary on Dropnose Point, Gugh

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.8924 / 49°53'32"N

Longitude: -6.3274 / 6°19'38"W

OS Eastings: 89310.3362

OS Northings: 8112.1432

OS Grid: SV893081

Mapcode National: GBR BXRZ.4JQ

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.8YSW

Entry Name: Prehistoric linear boundary on Dropnose Point, Gugh

Scheduled Date: 23 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008324

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15304

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a prehistoric linear boundary crossing the small
promontory of Dropnose Point on the south east coast of Gugh, Isles of Scilly.
The linear boundary survives as a line of spaced edge-set and end-set slabs,
called orthostats, up to 0.5m high and generally 0.5m to 1m apart, at whose
base are very intermittent and slight traces of heaped rubble bank, up to 1m
wide and largely submerged beneath the surface peat. The boundary is visible
for 75m; 10m inland from the present north east coastal cliff it extends
for 35m to the SSW, rising up the slope of the small conical hill which
occupies the promontory, then it curves around the west side of the granite
outcrop on its summit and descends the hill slope for a further 35m to the
south east, ending on the eroding south eastern sea cliff of the promontory.
The boundary's alignment is continued for a further 15m south east beyond the
high-water mark by a line of boulders on and wedged in the foreshore bedrock
This linear boundary forms the only evidence for prehistoric land enclosure to
have survived the rising sea level on this part of Gugh. Its western curve, on
the summit of Dropnose Point, is 40m north east of the nearest cairn in a
dispersed group of 22 broadly contemporary funerary cairns, including two
entrance graves, which are located on and around the low ridge which crosses
the southern part of Gugh. Another large and diverse cairn group, partly
integrated with a prehistoric field system, occupies Kittern Hill on northern
Gugh, 475m to the north west.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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'
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.
The early linear boundaries on the Isles of Scilly were constructed from the
Bronze Age to the early medieval period (c.2000 BC-AD 1066): closer dating
within that period may be provided by their visible relationships to other
classes of monument, or by their relationship with an earlier recorded sea
level. They consist of stone walls, up to 3m wide and 1.1m high but usually
much slighter, and are formed of heaped rubble, often incorporating edge- or
end-set slabs called orthostats.
Linear boundaries served a variety of functions. These included separating
land regularly cultivated from that less intensively used, separating land
held by different social groups, or delineating areas set aside for
ceremonial, religious and funerary activities. Linear boundaries are often
associated with other forms of contemporary field system. The Isles of Scilly
contain examples of an associaton, rarely encountered elswhere, whereby
certain linear boundaries directly link several cairns, entrance graves and
cists in some groups of prehistoric funerary monuments.
Linear boundaries along the coastal margin of the islands are often
indistinguishable from the truncated upper walls of early field systems whose
remaining extent has been destroyed by the rising sea level. Linear boundaries
form a substantial part of the evidence of early field systems recorded on the
Isles of Scilly. They provide significant insights into the physical and
social organisation of past landscapes and form an important element in the
existing landscape. Even where truncated by the rising sea level, their
surviving lengths provide important evidence for the wider contemporary
context within which other nationally important monuments at higher altitudes
were constructed. A substantial proportion of surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.

This linear boundary on Dropnose Point, Gugh, is constructed in a manner
typical of known prehistoric boundaries on the islands; its proximity to the
large dispersed cairn group on the island's southern ridge provides the only
surviving evidence for the wider organisation of the prehistoric landscape
into which that important cairn group was integrated. Its relationship to the
hill now forming the promontory also demonstrates well the use of landmark
features by prehistoric communities when defining the functional organisation
of their landscape.

Source: Historic England


consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 relating to Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7055, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107s relating to Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 7021 & 7037, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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