Scilly’s historic environment is of international importance. The 238 scheduled monuments here (Britain’s densest concentration) represent at least 4,000 years of social, economic, cultural and religious activity. Many of them cover extensive areas, including entire islands – Samson for example. You can search for places to visit and listen to audio clips about them on English Heritage’s website.
The whole of Scilly is designated as a Conservation Area. 130 listed buildings include late medieval and post-medieval castles and fortifications, lighthouses and navigation aids, parish churches and non-conformist chapels, domestic dwellings, public buildings and farm buildings.
Important projects about Scilly’s historic environment have included:
Defending Scilly – an English Heritage study of Scilly’s military archaeology
Lyonesse Project (2010-2011) – a study of Scilly’s drowned prehistoric and historic landscapes (a collaborative project between Cornwall Council and Cardiff University)
Historic Environment Research Framework for Scilly – a project being undertaken by those with an interest in research into the historic environment of the Isles of Scilly. These include academics, local authority archaeologists and others. The project is part-funded by English Heritage with contributions from the Council of the Isles of Scilly, the Isles of Scilly AONB Partnership and the Duchy of Cornwall. Project updates can be found here.
Special Features of Scilly’s Historic Environment:
- The modern archipelago is the remnant of an ancient drowned landscape
- Exceptional Bronze Age settlements, field systems and ceremonial landscapes
- Cliff castles and a high status burial on Bryher link the islands to the family of Atlantic communities in later prehistory
- A rare Romano-British shrine at Nornour connects Scilly to the Roman world
- Early medieval cist cemeteries, chapels and settlements are of national importance
- Medieval castles and earthworks are of international and national importance
- Scilly’s maritime history is internationally important, including the 1707 wreck of the British Naval Fleet on the Western Rocks leading to the parliamentary prize for resolution of the longitude dilemma
- An estimated 700-1000 shipwrecks in the waters around Scilly, including three Protected Wreck Sites
- Conservation Area featuring vernacular, religious and public architecture
- Local traditions still alive today include gig rowing, small scale production of willow lobster pots, fishing and farming