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Prehistoric cairns, prehistoric to post-medieval settlements and field systems, an early Christian focus, post-medieval kelp pits and quay on Tean and Old Man

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 49.9673 / 49°58'2"N

Longitude: -6.3135 / 6°18'48"W

OS Eastings: 90793.974567

OS Northings: 16375.779966

OS Grid: SV907163

Mapcode National: GBR BXSR.YS1

Mapcode Global: VGYBY.J25X

Entry Name: Prehistoric cairns, prehistoric to post-medieval settlements and field systems, an early Christian focus, post-medieval kelp pits and quay on Tean and Old Man

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 25 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016179

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15500

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Martin's

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The scheduling includes a succession of settlement, funerary, religious and
industrial remains ranging from prehistoric to post-medieval in date and
encompassing much of the uninhabited islands of Tean and Old Man, with parts
of their inter-tidal shores, in the north of the Isles of Scilly.
The scheduling includes two prehistoric funerary cairns. One is located on the
northern of two islets comprising the island of Old Man; the cairn lies
between outcrops of a small knoll on the south of the islet and has slight
traces of a rubble mound, approximately 5m in diameter, dominated by a
funerary chamber, 3m north east-south west by up to 1.5m wide internally and
0.7m deep. The chamber is walled largely by edge-set slabs with two coursed
slabs and a small outcrop on the north west; it appears open on the north
west. A covering slab, 2.5m long, rests over the chamber. The other cairn is
on the lower middle shore of West Porth, off the south west coast of Tean; it
survives as a shallow-domed rubble mound, 15m in diameter and 1m high; a kerb
of large slabs is visible on parts of the perimeter, showing a regular
spacing, approximately 1m apart, in the north west sector.
A prehistoric field system extends over much of western Tean and Old Man, the
adjacent inter-tidal zones of St Helen's Porth and West Porth, and into East
Porth. Elements of the field system also influence a much later field system
across central Tean. On dry land, the field system contains low rubble banks
often with a midline row of spaced edge-set slabs called orthostats,
approximately 0.5m high. In the inter-tidal zone, some banks attract
aggregations of beach cobbles; elsewhere bank rubble has eroded leaving
alignments of the larger core slabs and some orthostats. The boundaries give a
regular pattern whose alignment is influenced by local landforms. In the north
west, the dominant boundaries run parallel with the north-south axis of Tean's
western headland and the trough of St Helen's Porth. To the south, the
dominant axis alters to north east-south west, parallel with the ridges of the
islets of Old Man, and perpendicular to the north west-south east axis of the
shallow trough of West Porth. On the western ridges a wall follows the spine,
linking outcrops, with subsidiary walls running off to each side at irregular
intervals. In St Helen's Porth, an east-west wall links the northern ends of
north-south walls approximately 20m apart; to their east, a rectangular
structure, approximately 8m long, is defined by edge-set slabs. In West Porth,
walls define an area at least 100m long, north west-south east, and tapering
in width from approximately 100m on the north west to 80m along its south east
wall near Mean Low Water level; parallel walls also run north east to the
coastal cliff.
On central Tean and in East Porth, prehistoric walling largely follows north
east-south west and north west-south east axes. On the slopes around the north
of Kipper Carn and east of St Helen's Porth, some walls are backed by
substantial deposits called lynchets due to prehistoric cultivation on the
slope. In East Porth, a wall is visible over approximatley 68m north west-
south east on the upper shore, meeting short lengths of walling at the south
east associated with a hut circle settlement described below.
Two areas contain prehistoric hut circles. In the north, single examples are
sited on the lower slope north east of Kipper Carn and east of St Helen's
Porth. Their levelled rounded interiors are 5.5m-6m across, defined by a
rubble wall 1m-2m wide, approximately 1m high, with edge-set facing slabs and
an entrance gap facing south east. A third hut circle is known in the east of
St Helen's Porth. The other settlement, at the south east end of the long
prehistoric wall in East Porth, includes two hut circles 4m apart; each is
3.5m-4m in internal diameter, defined by rubble walling c.0.6m wide with some
edge-set slabs. Their lower walls and interior are masked by present beach
deposits. A third similar hut circle is 125m to the south east in East Porth.
The focus of later settlement is a small headland between West Porth and East
Porth on south western Tean. Its early features are known partly by excavation
and by exposure along the cliff edge. On the west of the headland a midden
containing a range of artefacts, bone, shell and plant remains in a dark earth
extends over approximatley 25m of the cliff and to approximately 15m from it;
radiocarbon dating reveals mid Roman to early medieval use. A small building
overlying the midden contained sixth-seventh century AD pottery; its floor,
levelled into the midden, was faced by angled rubble wall suggesting a
subrectangular interior truncated by erosion.
A cemetery began north east of the midden in the seventh century AD.
Excavation revealed 15 slab-lined graves, aligned east-west in three north-
south rows. Skeletal remains were of men, at least one woman, and children,
showing a lay cemetery; at least two men suffered from leprosy. Partly
overlying the eastern graves were the lower walls of an early eighth century
chapel, 5m long by 2.75m wide internally, with a doorway on the south. It
appears in 12th century records dedicated to 'Saint T(h)eona', giving the
island its name; a nearby midden with 12th-13th century pottery may derive
from final activity at the chapel which, by the 15th century, had long been
abandoned.
To the west of the chapel, rubble foundations of a later 17th century house
overlie the earlier midden. Aligned NNE-SSW, its visible southern end is 2.5m
wide internally; associated pottery confirms occupation over much of the 18th
century. The house is attributed to the Nance family who settled on Tean in
1684, introducing the kelp industry to the islands: gathering and burning
seaweed to produce soda ash required in glass, soap and alum manufacture. The
activity was important in the islands' economy until 1835 and the scheduling
contains two sites, called kelp pits, where the seaweed was burnt, visible as
inverted-conical hollows 1.4m-1.6m in diameter and 0.4m-0.6m deep, lined by
small slabs: one is by the cliff edge 25m north west of the Nance's house; the
other is at the south west of the southern islet of Old Man. Remains of a quay
and slipway also relate to the 17th-19th century activity. The quay extends
28m SSE across the middle shore south east of the Nance's house. It is 2m-3m
wide, edged by blocks and infilled by rubble. The slipway, 270m to the south
east in East Porth, has a low breakwater wall running NNE onto the upper
shore, visible over only 4.5m before being masked by beach sand.
The Nance's house was replaced in the late 18th century by a house 15m to the
east. It is 8.2m NNW-SSE by 3.7m wide internally with rough dressed masonry
surviving mostly to roof height, low gables at each end, a doorway on the east
and a fireplace and window in the SSE wall. Tumbling walls of ancillary rooms
extend north and south from the house, which occupies the south east corner of
a walled yard encompassing the early medieval cemetery and chapel.
A field system associated with these post medieval houses includes a belt of
eight plots across central Tean, between the houses and Great Hill. An oblong
enclosure was laid out south west of Kipper Carn and three irregular plots
subdivide the south east headland of Tean. Upkeep of the field system and the
houses is ascribed to seasonal activity by the Nances, who leased Tean well
into the 19th century despite moving to St Martin's before the 1750's.

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.

Each phase of the prehistoric to post-medieval activities on Tean and Old Man
has produced remains which present well the unusual succession of land uses
which have been applied in this submerging terrain. The good survival of
remains in the inter-tidal zone complement those on dry land to show very
clearly the developing human responses and adaptations to gradual submergence,
starting with prehistoric funerary foci, extensive land division and
settlement clearly appropriate to a larger land area and lower sea levels, and
ending with post-medieval limited and seasonal exploitation of the inshore
resource and small discrete areas of a small island lacking continuous
habitation.
The cairns in this scheduling give a good illustration of the diversity of
form and siting of prehistoric funerary monuments, while the prehistoric field
system shows well its manner of construction and layout, demonstrating the
strong influence of the nature and aspect of the underlying landforms. These
prehistoric features can be set in their wider contemporary context by the
good survival of prehistoric settlement and funerary remains on nearby
islands. The early medieval cemetery and chapel in this scheduling is a very
rare survival of such an early non-monastic Christian focus serving its local
community and showing evidence for development in its early centuries. It is
extremely valuable for studies of the early development of Christianity in
western Britain and is of particular value as one of at least three early
medieval Christian foci to survive on Scilly, each containing a chapel but
with differing accompanying features: a rare grouping in a small area which
illustrates the diversity of religious sites in this period, their
relationships to each other and to the wider settlement regime containing
them.
The remains from the kelp industry in this scheduling form a major grouping
containing examples of each of the industry's surviving components and the
location from which the industry was founded on Scilly. The physical remains
are complemented by a wealth of supporting historical documentation and are of
national significance for an industry whose other main areas of production lay
along the western coasts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1752)
Over, L, The Kelp Industry in Scilly, (1987)
Over, L, The Kelp Industry in Scilly, (1987)
Ratcliffe, J, Lighting up the Past in Scilly, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J , Straker, V, The Early Environment of Scilly, (1996)
Ratcliffe, J, Lighting up the Past in Scilly, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Scilly's Archaeological Heritage, (1992)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1986)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1986)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1986)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1986)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1986)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1986)
Gray, A, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Prehistoric Habitation Sites on the Isles of Scilly, , Vol. 11, (1972), 19-49
Thomas, C, 'Early Land Allotment in the British Isles' in Types & Distribution of pre-Norman Fields in Cornwall & Scilly, (1978), 7-15
Other
CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7699, (1991)
CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7700, (1991)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7101, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7102, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7102.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7102.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7102.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7102.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7103, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7105, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7106.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7107, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7108, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7111.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7101, 7102.02, .04, .08, 7105, (1988)
Prof Charles Thomas, Letters dated 5/10/95 & 14/10/95 to MPPA re socketed slab, (1995)
Rees, S, AM7 and scheduling maplet for SI 1001, 1975,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 NW
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXII: 11
Source Date: 1908
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet LXXXII: 16
Source Date: 1889
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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