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Cromwells Castle

In the civil parish of Tresco.
In the historic county of Isles of Scilly.
Modern Authority of Isles of Scilly.
1974 county of Isles of Scilly.
Medieval County of Isles of Scilly.

OS Map Grid Reference: SV881159
Latitude 49.96218° Longitude -6.34952°

Cromwells Castle has been described as a probable Artillery Fort.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Cromwell's Castle is an artillery tower that was built between 1651 and 1652, comprising a circular gun tower 13.5 metres diameter and built of coursed rubble. It is situated on a small low rocky shelf projecting from the western coast of Castle Down on Tresco. The tower replaced an earlier blockhouse built between 1548 and 1554. The artillery tower was built after Parliamentarian forces recaptured Tresco during the Civil War and sought to defend it from the potential threat of the Dutch fleet, which had arrived off the Scillies in March 1651. It was strategically positioned to command the channel between Bryher and Tresco. It is about 15 metres high and originally comprised of a basement and two floors above which lay the gun platform with 6 gun ports. The first and second floor rooms included timber floors and stone fire places and were linked by a wooden ladder or steps. Access to the first floor was via stone steps within the wall of the tower. The gun platform was reached from the second floor by a spiral stone staircase within the walls of the tower. There was originally a walkway along the gun platform protected by a parapet. In around 1740, partly in response to threats from Spain, the defences were altered and refurbished by Abraham Tovey, Master Gunner. A pentagonal gun platform was added against the seaward side of the blockhouse and a guardhouse built between the two structures. In 1752, the monument was recorded by the antiquarian William Borlase who noted that the 'principal battery' was armed with nine-pounder guns and the tower platform had small four-pounder cannon. He also recorded that the structure had no garrison and that the timber was 'already much decayed'. (PastScape)

This enigmatic gun tower with attached platform, covering New Grimsby harbour, is of mid 16th-century form but documentary evidence suggests that it was built in 1651-2 (see Bowden and Brodie 2011, 27-9); this issue still requires resolution. (Bowden 2011)

There seems to be some question for Bowden that an earlier fort C16 fort was here on the site now occupied by the C17 building although the location alone does seem to make this entirely likely.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:22:45

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