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Prehistoric field system and Civil War fieldworks on south western Carn Morval Down, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9266 / 49°55'35"N

Longitude: -6.3121 / 6°18'43"W

OS Eastings: 90632.393153

OS Northings: 11853.437173

OS Grid: SV906118

Mapcode National: GBR BXSW.CKV

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.J3XL

Entry Name: Prehistoric field system and Civil War fieldworks on south western Carn Morval Down, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015665

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15480

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 prehistoric field system on the coastal slope of
Carn Morval Down, south of Carn Morval Point on the west coast of St Mary's in
the Isles of Scilly. The monument also includes two fieldworks dating to the
English Civil War, a gun battery and a nearby sunken platform, both situated
among the upper outcrops behind Carn Morval Point, near the crest of the
The prehistoric field system is visible across the steep coastal slope on the
south west of the Down, terminating on the north at a ridge of granite
outcrops on the south of Carn Morval and truncated on the south beyond a
modern field wall marking the northern extent of relatively recent improved
and cleared pasture. The field system subdivides that area by at least four
banks extending NNW-SSE along the contour, spaced 15m-25m apart. The banks are
1.5m-2.5m wide and markedly assymetrical in section, with a downslope face
0.5m-0.75m high but almost level along their upslope side; this form of
boundary, called a lynchet, results from the build-up of soil against the
upslope side of the boundaries due to the effects of former cultivation on the
steep slope. This field system forms the southern surviving extent of a
broadly contemporary and similar field system that reappears on the other
side of the Carn Morval outcrops to encompass much of the north west slope of
Carn Morval Down and the adjacent Halangy Down, incorporating a large
prehistoric to Roman period settlement site and several prehistoric funerary
During the English Civil War, from 1642 to 1651 on Scilly, gun batteries were
set up along the coasts of St Mary's flanking the main maritime routes into
the archipeligo. Those along the north and west coast of the island covered
the approach from Crow Sound to the islands' main military and administrative
focus on the Garrison, 1.25km south west of this scheduling. Two batteries
were built to control the major change in angle of the coastline at Carn
Morval Point: a lower battery, beyond this scheduling, behind the Point's
coastal outcrop to give close-range fire, and, within this scheduling, a
higher-level battery 55m to the south east behind the upper outcrops of the
slope, giving a longer range of fire and a wider viewpoint across the
approaches to the anchorage of St Mary's Pool.
This higher battery is visible as a sub-circular flattened platform, 17m
east-west by 15m north-south, its surface extending east from the top of a
natural outcrop on its western edge. The platform merges with the natural
slope surface on the east but to both the NNE and SSW its levelled surface is
built out from the slope to give near-vertical curving sides, generally 1m
high with traces of a coursed-rubble revetment wall. A straight drystone wall
crossing the northern periphery of the battery platform and extending beyond
to the ESE is an earlier 20th century boundary.
Situated 20m ENE of the battery is a small rectangular platform whose
flattened floor is sunk into the ground beside the uppermost outcrops on the
slope. The platform measures 6m north west-south east by 5.5m north east-south
west, its sides ranging from 0.6m to 1.7m deep, rock cut on the north east and
south west, with the outcrop face on the north east rising 3.5m above the
platform base. This is one of several platforms which accompany Civil War
batteries on Scilly, another being sited 100m to the north west near the lower
battery behind Carn Morval Point, their purpose considered to have been
provision of temporary shelter and storage facilities.
In the integrated system of Civil War defences that survive around the
coastline of St Mary's, the battery in this scheduling worked in conjunction
with the lower battery behind Carn Morval Point to complement the fields of
fire of batteries at the northern end of Toll's Porth, 500m to the north east,
and on Newford Island, 660m to the south.
All modern markers relating to the battery's use as a golf tee are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

Several methods of field layout were employed in the Isles of Scilly from the
Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC to AD 400), subdividing areas of
land by variously regular or irregular networks of boundaries; closer dating
within that period may be provided by examining visible relationships of their
boundaries to other surviving field systems or other classes of monument of
shorter known time-span, or by their relationship with an earlier recorded sea
levels. The field systems are bounded by rubble walls or banks, often
incorporating edge- or end set slabs called orthostats. Where they follow the
contour of a slope their upslope sides are often blanketted by soil brought
downhill by early cultivation; the resulting assymetrical bank, called a
lynchet, may preserve early land surfaces, occupation remains and
environmental data. Although no precise figure is available, the various forms
of prehistoric to Roman period field systems survive in over 70 areas of the
Isles of Scilly, providing significant insights into the physical and social
organisation of past landscapes.
Their coastal bias in the present landscape of the Isles of Scilly leaves a
number of early field systems in close physical association with fieldworks
erected for coastal defence during the English Civil War (1642-1651). Three
main types of fieldwork are known: batteries, platforms and breastworks.
Batteries are levelled areas or platforms situated on a hilltop or terraced
into the slope to serve as gun emplacements. They vary considerably in size
and shape and are usually partly or wholly enclosed by a bank. At least twenty
batteries are known to survive on the Isles of Scilly, covering the chief
maritime approaches. Adjacent to some batteries are sub-rectangular platforms;
levelled into the slope and measuring up to 12m by 8m in size; these represent
the sites of temporary buildings serving as shelters, stores and lookouts. At
least eight such platforms are known to survive. Batteries and platforms were
complemented by breastworks, earth-and-rubble banks running beside the coastal
cliff edge, usually accompanied by a ditch along their landward side,
providing infantry cover along potential landing places and masking gun
emplacements. The historical context of the fieldworks' construction is
recorded in contemporary documents, indicating most were produced by Royalist
forces who controlled the islands for the entire Civil War period except
during 1646-8. The Civil War fieldworks of the Isles of Scilly form a major
part of the 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally and they
present an unusually complete system of fortifications from this period, both
in the range of fieldwork types represented and in the surviving pattern of
their strategic disposition.
The prehistoric and Civil War elements in this scheduling survive well. The
prehistoric field system displays clearly its form and relationship to the
topography, with substantial lynchetting of its banks. Although truncated on
the south by relatively recent pasture improvement, it forms the southern
surviving sector of a sequence of broadly contemporary field systems that
extend along much of the north western coastal slope of St Mary's and
incorporate prehistoric to Roman period settlement and funerary monuments,
allowing an unusually broad view of the organisation and development of land
use in the pre-submergence landscape of the islands. The features and
situation of the Civil War battery and its platform show well the nature and
function of these types of fieldwork, little affected by the battery's later
wall and use as a golf tee. Their wider context within the extensive surviving
Civil War defensive system on Scilly demonstrates clearly the strategic
methods employed by the mid-17th century military forces and the role of these
fieldwork types within them.

Source: Historic England


Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7430, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9011
Source Date: 1980

Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps; SV 9011 & SV 9012
Source Date: 1980

Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXVII NE
Source Date: 1908

Title: Ordnance Survey 6": 1 mile Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXVII NE
Source Date: 1907

Source: Historic England

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