Wildlife Trust Land Management Revealing Long Lost History

The clearance of the undergrowth on land managed by the Wildlife Trust on St Mary’s is helping archaeologists and historians.

Allan Brodie of English Heritage has been working on the islands for the past two weeks and says recent work has revealed a temporary construction road for the 17th Century Steval Fort, which went up around 100 years before the Garrison walls.

Allan says they know there are other historic sites in the area from ground and laser-based aerial surveys.

It’s difficult to photograph or study them because they’re buried under bracken and gorse but Allan is hoping that many of these will be revealed as the grazing and clearance continues.

Last year they found a World War II slip trench for a machine gun position in the Halangy area, again because of clearance of foliage.

Allan would like islanders to come forward and share any anecdotes of fixtures or military buildings they remember.

He says two anti-aircraft guns were sent to St Mary’s during 1940 and Allan would like to know where they were used.

Although it was in living memory, records weren’t often kept and he says people don’t remember details of temporary or wartime fittings readily.

There is a very good collection of memoirs from the war in the museum, but Allan says there are still gaps and it would be great to fill in “a bit more of the picture.”

Allan has now finished his official project for English Heritage but he’s developing his knowledge of the buildings, and especially churches, of Scilly and one day there may be a book to supplement his published work on the Garrison fortifications.

And he hopes to come over in September to host some historic walks to coincide with the inter-island walk.