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Civil War battery at Works Point, Bryher

A Scheduled Monument in Bryher, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9448 / 49°56'41"N

Longitude: -6.3522 / 6°21'7"W

OS Eastings: 87870.656779

OS Northings: 14037.271999

OS Grid: SV878140

Mapcode National: GBR BXPT.R6H

Mapcode Global: VGYBX.VN66

Entry Name: Civil War battery at Works Point, Bryher

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010163

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15397

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: Bryher

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 and
situated on Works Point, a minor headland at the southern tip of Bryher in the
Isles of Scilly.

The battery survives with a near semicircular bank of earth and rubble
extending immediately behind the slight sea cliff and around the southern
edges of a low rocky knoll on the small headland. An additional flanking bank
covers the field of fire to the south west. The battery's bank measures up to
3m wide, 0.9m high externally, facing the southerly aspects, and 0.15m
internally. It encloses an area 12m wide, east-west, by 8m north-south,
defined to the north by the spread of low natural outcrops. Several outliers
from the outcrops occur within the battery interior but they leave sufficient
level areas to serve as a gun emplacement. From the western end of its curve,
the battery's bank is angled to the north west, extending behind the sea cliff
for a further 18m to reinforce the south western flank of the battery. The
presence of this battery has resulted in the name of the small headland on
which it is sited, the term `works' being frequently used on the Isles of
Scilly to denote a Civil War fortification.

This battery forms part of an integrated system of Civil War coastal defences
which survive extensively around the Isles of Scilly, focussed on protecting
the main populated island of St Mary's and including a dispersed group of
batteries on the other major islands controlling the principal approaches to
the inner waters of the Scillies. The battery in this monument is sited to
control the north western approaches into the islands, between Bryher and
Samson and between the southern ends of Bryher and Tresco. On Bryher, this
battery complements the field of fire of a second contemporary battery, 570m
to the north on The Green, controlling the southern strait between Bryher and

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 at Works Point has survived well and has not been
excavated. Its situation and the survival of extensive documentation giving
the historical context in which this battery was built demonstrate clearly the
strategic methods employed by the Civil War military forces and the function
of batteries within them. These defensive methods are also well illustrated in
their broader context by the surviving series of complementary batteries
around the main approaches to the islands, in whose north western sector this
monument formed an integral part.

Source: Historic England


consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7387, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7397, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8714
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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