The Isles of Scilly is an archipelago of 55 islands and islets 50km off the SW tip of Cornwall, UK. St Mary's is the largest island (40% of total land area) and most populous (c. 1700 people) of the islands (total c. 2200). The islands have been occupied by people for over 6000 years and this is reflected in their facscinating archeology.
The islands are eroded remnants of granite rock that intruded into the Earth's crust from deep underground. Until relatively recent times the islands were probably much larger and perhaps joined together into one island. Rising sea levels flooded the central plain around 400–500 AD, giving the current coastlines. Even today it is said to be possible to walk/wade between some islands at extremely low tides.
Star Castle is a fortress on St Mary's, built in 1593, during the period when a Spanish invasion of England was threatened. The Castle is in the shape of an eight-pointed star at the centre of a fortification system known as the Garrison. It comprises an outer wall around the outcrop of Hew Hill, protecting the town and the castle, with strategically placed gun batteries at regular intervals around the outer wall, allowing covering fire at all angles.
An entrance grave is a type of Neolithic and early Bronze Agechamber tomb found primarily in Great Britain. The monument typically consisted of a circular mound bordered by a stone curb, erected over a rectangular burial chamber and accessed by a narrow, stone lined entrance. Entrance graves are often referred to as the Scillonian' Group, named after the Isles of Scilly where the majority of entrance graves have been discovered.
More modern memorials on Scilly
Back to the land of the living
St Mary's is a great place to stay with much to see and considerable variety in itself. But it is also the perfect base to visit the other islands with the St Mary's Boatmen's Association running regular ferries offering return trips, sightseeing and more. More of those island trips in further "Scilly" blogs.