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Civil War battery 80m SSE of Dutchman's Carn, Peninnis Head, St Mary's

A Scheduled Monument in St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9048 / 49°54'17"N

Longitude: -6.3056 / 6°18'20"W

OS Eastings: 90959.874576

OS Northings: 9405.10468

OS Grid: SV909094

Mapcode National: GBR BXTY.2JM

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.NNC9

Entry Name: Civil War battery 80m SSE of Dutchman's Carn, Peninnis Head, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 23 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008329

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15310

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Mary's

Built-Up Area: Hugh town

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a gun battery dating to the English Civil War situated
beside the south west cliff of Peninnis Head, the southern extremity of St
Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.

The battery is located on a natural hollow among the cliff-edge granite
outcrops and is dominated to its east, the landward side, by a large
upstanding outcrop. It is visible as a sub-rectangular platform of earth and
rubble heaped into the hollow, filling the gaps and irregularities between the
outcrops to produce the levelled upper surface for the battery. The platform
surface measures 15m north-south by 14m east-west; along its NNW and SSE
margins is a slight flat-topped rubble bank, up to 2m wide and 0.3m high,
defining a shallow central hollow that formed the gun pit. To the west and
north west, between the hollow's peripheral outcrops, the platform's rubble
slopes steeply down, up to 1.4m, over a width of 2m. To the north east the
platform level merges with a large, near-level, surface exposure of bedrock
marking the original entrance for artillery to the battery. The southern edge
of the platform fronts directly onto the sea cliff.

This battery commanded the north east flank of St Mary's Sound between the
islands of St Mary's and Gugh, together with the strategically important
garrison at the south western tip of St Mary's. The sound forms the approach
from the south to the principal populated island of St Mary's, the military
and administrative focus of the Isles of Scilly during the Civil War. The
south west flank of the sound was covered by a complementary battery on the
Carn of Works, Gugh. The outcrops near this battery on Peninnis Head prevent
it from covering far into the southern approaches to St Mary's Sound. That
field of fire was served by a second Civil War battery located 110m to the
east of this monument, at the Kettle and Pans rocks near the southern end of
Peninnis Head.

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.
Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military
operations between 1642 and 1651 to provide temporary protection for infantry
or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced
with revetting or palisades, consist of earth and rubble platforms or banks
and ditches.
The Civil War fieldworks of the Isles of Scilly form a major part of the 150
surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. They present an
unusually complete system of fortifications from this period, both in the
surviving range of fieldwork types represented and in the surviving pattern of
their strategic disposition.
Three main types of Civil War fieldwork have been recognised on the Isles of
Scilly: breastworks, batteries and platforms; these could be deployed
separately or in combination to form a defensive complex.
Breastworks, which on the Isles of Scilly run beside the coastal cliff edge,
consist of an earth and rubble bank, up to 4m wide and nearly 2m high but
generally much smaller, usually accompanied by a ditch on the landward side.
Sixteen surviving examples are recorded on the island.
Batteries are levelled areas or platforms, generally up to 20m across,
situated on a hilltop or terraced into a slope to serve as gun emplacements.
They vary considerably in size and shape and are usually partially or wholly
enclosed by a bank, occasionally incorporating one or two outer ditches.
Twenty batteries survive on the Isles of Scilly, several connected by
breastworks. Adjacent to some batteries are examples of the third fieldwork
type, platforms. These are partly terraced into, and partly out from, sloping
ground and represent sites of lookouts and temporary buildings. Eight such
platforms, measuring up to 12m by 8m in size, are known to survive on the
islands. These fieldworks and fieldwork complexes were occasionally associated
with other classes of defensive monument on the islands, including earthen
artillery forts and blockhouses.
The fieldworks were designed to defend the deep water approaches to the
islands, especially St Mary's where most examples are found. Fieldworks are
also known from Tresco, Bryher, Samson, St Agnes and Gugh. The circumstances
of their construction are recorded in contemporary historical documents which
indicate most were built by the Royalist forces which controlled the islands
for the entire Civil War period except during 1646-8.

This Civil War battery on Peninnis Head has survived well. Its situation and
the survival of documentation giving the historical context in which this
battery was built demonstrates clearly the strategic methods employed by the
Civil War military forces and the function of batteries within them. This is
also illustrated by the survival of the two complementary Civil War batteries,
one on the opposite side of St Mary's Sound on Gugh and the other on the
southern end of Peninnis Head which extended the field of fire from this

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ratcliffe, J./CAU, The Archaeology of the Isles of Scilly, (1989)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 90 NW
Source Date: 1980

Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map; SV 90 NW
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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