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Prehistoric field system, hut circle and middens on southern Annet

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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Coordinates

Latitude: 49.8937 / 49°53'37"N

Longitude: -6.3689 / 6°22'8"W

OS Eastings: 86341.031582

OS Northings: 8434.390422

OS Grid: SV863084

Mapcode National: GBR BXNY.X4S

Mapcode Global: VGYC3.KXCV

Entry Name: Prehistoric field system, hut circle and middens on southern Annet

Scheduled Date: 4 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014997

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15449

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric field system with at least one adjacent
hut circle and two middens of occupation debris on the southern peninsula of
Annet, an uninhabited island in the south west of the Isles of Scilly.
The field system is defined by walls visible as single rows of boulders, up to
1.4m wide and 0.4m high, slightly spaced apart along the wall line and well
embedded in a thick turf which fully covers several of the boulders. Three
walls define the south, east and north sides of a small subrectangular plot on
the northern slope of the island's southern peninsula. The plot measures 70m
long, north-south, and survives up to 45m east-west; its southern wall is
aligned on and ends by a natural coastal outcrop at the west called Carn
Windlass while the north east corner of the plot is located at a much slighter
outcrop lower down the slope; the western edge of the plot is truncated by the
present shoreline north of Carn Windlass. A fourth wall extends for 25m south
east from the plot's south east corner.
A hut circle is located on the eastern slope of Carn Windlass, close to the
western end of the plot's southern wall. Engulfed by deep turf, it is visible
as having an ovoid interior levelled 0.8m into the slope and measuring 6m
north-south by 4m east-west. On the west it is defined by the levelling
backscarp, on whose crest occasional spaced slabs protrude through the turf;
the east side is defined by a turf-covered bank 1m wide and 0.5m high; a gap
at the north may mark an entrance facing into the plot. About 15m to the south
west, a second hut circle has previously been recorded, 6m in diameter with
boulder and slab faced walling.
Coastal erosion has revealed part of a midden of prehistoric occupation debris
on the old land surface by the south west of the Carn Windlass outcrop. The
exposed part of the midden extends over an area of 12m by 6m but its fuller
extent is masked beneath a deep thrift turf; the bulk of its volume comprises
limpet shells but previous records of surface finds from this midden include
numerous flint artefacts, prehistoric pottery and bones of fish, birds, sheep
and cattle.
A second prehistoric midden is located adjacent to the next coastal outcrop
south of Carn Windlass. This midden is visible over 15m north-south, delimited
on the north by the outcrop, and 9m east-west, truncated on the west by the
rocky shoreline. The fabric of this midden is also dominated by limpet shells,
in a dark sandy soil with some shells of other marine molluscs. Surface finds
from this midden include a number of prehistoric flint and chert artefacts and
fragments of Bronze Age pottery. Near the southern end of the midden's area,
erosion has revealed a line of beach cobbles embedded in the midden fabric,
extending east-west and visible for 2.75m, considered to derive from a largely
masked internal structure.
Beyond this monument, a third prehistoric midden is located by the north west
side of West Porth and another length of prehistoric walling is visible near
the western tip of Annet; a Bronze Age kerbed cairn is also sited near the
summit of the island's north west hill, 530m to the north west of this
monument. All of these archaeological features are the subjects of separate
schedulings.

MAP EXTRACT
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'
settlement.
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.
Regular field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have
been employed in the Isles of Scilly from the Bronze Age to the Roman period
(c.2000 BC - AD 400); closer dating within that period may be provided by the
visible relationships of the field boundaries to other classes of monument
with a shorter known time-span of use, or by their relationship with an
earlier recorded sea level.
They comprise a collection of field plots defined by boundaries laid out in a
consistent manner, along two dominant axes at approximate right angles to each
other. This results in rectilinear fields which may vary in their size and
length:width ratio both within and between individual field systems. The
fields are bounded by rubble walls or banks, often incorporating edge- or end-
set slabs called orthostats. Within its total area, a regular field system may
be subdivided into blocks differing in the orientations of their dominant
axes.
Regular field systems may be associated with broadly contemporary settlement
sites such as stone hut circles. Some regular field systems on the Isles of
Scilly contain a distinctive association, rarely encountered elsewhere,
whereby certain of their field boundaries directly incorporate or link cairns,
entrance graves and cists in some groups of prehistoric funerary monuments.
Although no precise figure is available, regular field systems form one of the
three principal forms of prehistoric field system, along with irregular field
systems and some groups of prehistoric linear boundaries, which survive in
over 70 areas of the Isles of Scilly. They provide significant insights into
the physical and social organisation of past landscapes and they provide
evidence for the wider contemporary context within which other nationally
important monuments were constructed.

The close grouping of prehistoric settlement features in this monument
survives well, with no recorded excavation. The prehistoric finds from the
surfaces of the monument's middens confirm their early date, their contents
forming a valuable survival of evidence relating to the island's prehistoric
land use. Their value is much increased by the survival in this monument of
the broadly contemporary habitation sites and field system, providing the
settlement context within which the middens accumulated. The disposition of
the monument's features also shows well the detailed level of influence of
natural landscape features on the organisation of prehistoric activities, both
in the consistent siting of the middens with reference to successive coastal
outcrops and in the use of natural outcrops as sighting points for the field
system walls. Although some adjacent prehistoric settlement areas have been
submerged by rising sea levels, evidence for the wider land use context of
which this monument formed part is provided by the island's other prehistoric
settlement and funerary monuments.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1756)
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1977)
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1977)
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1976)
Other
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7048, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7050, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.02, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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