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Civil War battery and associated platform at Carn Morval Point, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9277 / 49°55'39"N

Longitude: -6.3127 / 6°18'45"W

OS Eastings: 90595.759868

OS Northings: 11969.563945

OS Grid: SV905119

Mapcode National: GBR BXSW.59Q

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.J2LS

Entry Name: Civil War battery and associated platform at Carn Morval Point, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 14 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010173

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15383

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 and an adjacent and associated platform
for temporary buildings, both dating to the English Civil War and situated at
the landward end of the rocky promontory of Carn Morval Point on the west
coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.

The battery occupies a triangular area on the spine of a slight ridge
extending ESE from the promontory's outcrops. The NNW and south west flanks of
the battery meet almost at right angles at the landward end of those outcrops
and are each defined by an earth and rubble bank, 20m long and 4m wide by up
to 1m high along the outer side. The rear edge of the battery, across the ends
of the flanking banks, remained undefined. Along the outer edge of the
south west bank, the adjoining slope is levelled to a width of 2.5m,
accentuating the outer height of the bank and providing material for its
construction. The interior of the battery is levelled up to 0.8m above the
surrounding ground level at its western tip. The interior measures 21m
NNE-SSW, across the rear, by up to 12m ESE-WNW, from the rear to the battery's
western apex.

The associated platform is located 22m north east of the battery, at a
slightly lower level on the adjoining coastal slope. It is visible as a
sub-rectangular levelled area measuring 8m NNE-SSW, along the contour, by 6m
ESE-WNW. The levelled interior was cut 1m deep into the slope on its uphill
side and terraced out from the slope by 1.2m on its downhill side, where the
outer face of the terrace was retained by a roughly coursed slab-built wall.

This battery and its platform form part of an integrated system of Civil War
coastal defences which survive extensively around St Mary's. These defences
include breastworks bordering potential landing places and near important
settlements and installations, coupled with a system of batteries commanding
complementary fields of fire over the waters around much of the island's
coast. The battery in this monument has two fields of fire, to the north west
and the south west, commanding the waters along much of the western side of St
Mary's and controlling the strategically important approaches to St Mary's
Pool, containing the main harbour for the Garrison and Hugh Town, the military
and administrative centre of the islands. This battery complements the fields
of fire of other surviving Civil War batteries on headlands to the north east
in Toll's Porth and to the south and south west, on Newford Island and around
the Garrison.

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 and its associated platform have survived well, forming
a small but complete complex of fieldworks intimately related to the defence
of the nearby military and administrative centre. Their situation, and the
survival of extensive historical documentation giving the context in which
they were built, demonstrate clearly the strategic methods employed by the
Civil War military forces and the functions of batteries within them. These
methods are also well illustrated by the complementary relationship of this
monument to the other surviving batteries along the coastline of St Mary's.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
O'Neil, BH St J, Ancient Monuments of the Isles of Scilly, (1949)
O'Neil, BH St J, Ancient Monuments of the Isles of Scilly, (1949)
Ratcliffe, J, The Archaeology of Scilly, (1989)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7430, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9011
Source Date: 1980

Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; Outdoor Leisure 25; Isles of Scilly
Source Date: 1992

Source: Historic England

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