History & Archaeology

A compelling history dating back to the Bronze Age

From shipwrecks to treasure, and from burial chambers to deserted villages, the history of Scilly is utterly compelling – especially as it mingles so tantalisingly with modern-day life on the islands. Scilly’s tiny land mass is home to 239 scheduled monuments, which means there is a greater density of historical sites here than anywhere else in the British Isles.

Traces of human life on Scilly stretch back at least 3,000 years, when the islands were one large land-mass that was home to nomadic hunter-gatherers. Their flint tools still sometimes turn up today, on beaches and in fields.

At Bant’s Carn on St. Mary’s there’s an ancient grave dating from the Bronze Age; close by is Halangy Down, an Iron Age settlement. On St. Helen’s, Tean and St. Martin’s remains exist of early Christian chapels whilst you’ll discover a number of standing stones – at Long Rock, St. Mary’s, the Old Man of Gugh and the Menhir on Chapel Down, St. Martin’s. The Star Castle on the Garrison on St. Mary’s and Cromwell’s Castle on Tresco evidence life on Scilly at the time of the Tudors and the Civil War. 

Fascinating finds from yesteryear plot the rich history of these tiny islands, and many can be seen at the wonderful Isles of Scilly Museum on St. Mary’s. Alternatively, take a guided walk to uncover our hidden history.