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Prehistoric linear boundary 50m ENE of Mount Todden Battery, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9254 / 49°55'31"N

Longitude: -6.2784 / 6°16'42"W

OS Eastings: 93041.640052

OS Northings: 11575.035194

OS Grid: SV930115

Mapcode National: GBR BXWW.90W

Mapcode Global: VGYC5.447J

Entry Name: Prehistoric linear boundary 50m ENE of Mount Todden Battery, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 9 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010165

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15374

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Mary's

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 coastal slope
on the eastern edge of Mount Todden Down on eastern St Mary's in the Isles of
The linear boundary survives as a boulder wall, up to 1m high and 1.5m wide,
which extends for 30m WSW-ENE, directly down the lower half of the steep
coastal slope on the eastern edge of Mount Todden Down. The wall incorporates
a row of large and often contiguously laid slabs, some set on edge, measuring
up to 1.75m long, 1m wide and 1m high, together with smaller slabs and rubble.
The boundary extends down the slope from a large flat natural outcrop
measuring 4m long, north east-south west, by 3m wide. At its lower end, the
gradual submergence of the land since the prehistoric period has resulted in
the truncation of the boundary by the present coastal cliff.
This monument is located 360m south of a broadly contemporary field system on
the opposite side of Pelistry Bay on Toll's Island, the intervening present
bay of South Pelistry having been formed by the submergence since this
monument and the Toll's Island field system were constructed. This monument is
also 190m ENE of a broadly contemporary funerary cairn on the summit plateau
of Mount Todden Down, while cemeteries of broadly contemporary funerary cairns
are located on each of the successive coastal downs to the south, from
Normandy Down to Salakee Down.

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 Mount Todden Down has survived reasonably well despite
the truncation of its lower end by the rising sea level. The evidence which
the monument constitutes for the presence and manner of prehistoric land
division on this slope provides the broader context within which were
constructed the nationally important prehistoric field system on Toll's Island
and the cairns on this and the other coastal downs. The relationships between
this boundary and the field system and cairns, the local topography and the
use of a natural outcrop as the boundary's uphill terminal all show well the
nature of land use among prehistoric communities and the organisation of
funerary and farming activities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7234, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7238, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 SW
Source Date: 1980

Title: 1:2534 Scheduling Maplet for CO 1019 & CO 1025
Source Date: 1908
consulted 1994

Source: Historic England

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