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Prehistoric linear boundary SSE of The Island, Bryher

A Scheduled Monument in Bryher, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9519 / 49°57'6"N

Longitude: -6.3492 / 6°20'57"W

OS Eastings: 88128.647385

OS Northings: 14815.969123

OS Grid: SV881148

Mapcode National: GBR BXQT.0KH

Mapcode Global: VGYBX.WGRQ

Entry Name: Prehistoric linear boundary SSE of The Island, Bryher

Scheduled Date: 4 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014991

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15466

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 prehistoric linear boundary exposed in the inter-tidal
zone SSE of a small headland called The Island at the northern end of Green
Bay on eastern Bryher in the Isles of Scilly.
The linear boundary survives as a wall of closely spaced, often continuous,
row of boulders and slabs, generally 0.6m long, 0.5m wide and 0.5m high; many
of the slabs are edge-set, their faces in line with the wall's alignment. The
boundary is visible over 28m on a slightly curving course, initially heading
SSE from its northern end then tending towards the south. The continuation of
the boundary beyond this scheduling is masked from both ends by the later
sands and silts deposited on the middle shore.
This linear boundary forms the northern known exposure of an extensive area of
prehistoric land division in the now-submerged zone of Green Bay. Other
exposures beyond this scheduling include a field system, enclosure, trackway
and settlement sites in the central and southern parts of the bay, from 200m
to the south west of this scheduling, which are separated by areas whose
prehistoric land surface is now largely masked by the shore sand and shingle
overburden. Another broadly contemporary linear boundary and settlement site
is located in the small bay to the north of The Island, from 240m north of
this scheduling. The summit of Samson Hill, overlooking this scheduling from
the south, contains a prehistoric cairn cemetery, while the inter-tidal
remains which include this scheduling in Green Bay are complemented on the
south west coast of Bryher by another prehistoric field system and settlement
surviving in Great Porth and extending over the Heathy Hill promontory; these
prehistoric features are the subjects of separate schedulings.

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 boundary SSE of The Island survives well, clearly displaying its mode of
construction and forming a substantial exposure of a more extensive linear
boundary whose course remains masked beneath later deposits. Its survival
within the inter-tidal zone, despite rising sea levels, confirms its long term
stability against a considerable period of submergence. The proximity of this
boundary to the other inter-tidal field system and settlement remains in Green
Bay and the east coast of Samson Hill, and to the cairn cemetery on the summit
of Samson Hill, demonstrates the relationship between domestic, farming and
funerary activities among the prehistoric communities that used this monument.
It also complements those nearby prehistoric field system and settlement
survivals at various levels around southern Bryher in providing an unusually
complete view of prehistoric land use across the altitude range into the
now-submerged zone.

Source: Historic England


Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7374, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7386, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7305, 7306, 7386, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps; SV 8714 & 8814
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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