Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly

Map of the Isles of Scilly.
Location in relation to Cornwall
Location Celtic Sea, 45 km (28 mi) off the coast of Cornwall, England
Coordinates 49°56′10″N 6°19′22″W / 49.93611°N 6.32278°W / 49.93611; -6.32278Coordinates: 49°56′10″N 6°19′22″W / 49.93611°N 6.32278°W / 49.93611; -6.32278
Total islands 5 inhabited, 140 others
Major islands St Mary's, Tresco, St Martin's, Bryher, St Agnes
Area 16.03 km2 (6.189 sq mi)
(Ranked 323rd)
United Kingdom
Status Sui generis, Unitary
Largest city Hugh Town (pop. 1,068)
Leadership Cllr. Mrs. Julia Day
Executive Philip Hygate BA, FRSA
MP Andrew George
Population 2,100 (Ranked 326th) (as of 2010 est.)
Ethnic groups 99.6% White British

The Isles of Scilly (pronounced /ˈsɪli/; Cornish: Syllan or Enesek Syllan) form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall. This council is part of the UK and currently known as the Council of the Isles of Scilly. The adjective "Scillonian" is sometimes used for people or things related to the archipelago. The Isles of Scilly also form part of the Duchy of Cornwall.

The islands are designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.



Isles of Scilly (map of 1845)
Location of the Isles of Scilly (circled)

The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous other small rocky islets (around 140 in total) lying 45 km (28 mi) off Land's End. They are all composed of granite rock of early Permian age, an exposed part of the Cornubian batholith.

The islands' position produces a place of great contrast—the ameliorating effect of the sea means they rarely have frost or snow, which allows local farmers to grow flowers well ahead of those in mainland Britain. The chief agricultural product is cut flowers, mostly daffodils. Exposure to Atlantic winds means that spectacular winter gales lash the islands from time to time. This is reflected in the landscape, most clearly seen on Tresco where the lush sub-tropical Abbey Gardens on the sheltered southern end of the island contrast with the low heather and bare rock sculpted by the wind on the exposed northern end.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose thrift (Armeria maritima) as the "county flower" of the islands.[1][2]

This table provides an overview of the most important islands:

Island Population
(Census 2001)
Area (km²) Main settlement
St Mary's 1,666 6.29 Hugh Town
Tresco 180 2.97 New Grimsby
St Martin's (with White Island) 142 2.37 Higher Town
St Agnes (with Gugh) 73 1.48 Saint Agnes
Bryher (with Gweal) 92 1.32 Bryher
Samson -(1) 0.38  
Annet 0.21  
St. Helen's 0.20  
Teän 0.16  
Great Ganilly 0.13  
remaining 45 islets 0.50  
Isles of Scilly 2,153 16.03 Hugh Town

(1) inhabited until 1855


The Isles of Scilly have a temperate Oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) amongst the mildest and warmest climates in the United Kingdom. The average annual temperature is 11.6 °C (53 °F) in comparison to London which has 11.0 °C (52 °F). Winters are amongst the warmest in the country due to southerly latitude and moderating effects of the ocean. Summers are not as warm as on the mainland. They are perhaps the sunniest areas in the UK with on average 7.6 hours per day in July. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −6.4 °C on 13 January 1987 and the highest was 27.8 °C on 16 August 1947.[3] The maximum snowfall was 23 cm (9 inches) on the 12 January 1987. On average there are fewer than 10 days of air frost per year.

Climate data for Isles Of Scilly
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9
Average low °C (°F) 6
Precipitation mm (inches) 91
Avg. precipitation days 22 17 16 13 14 14 16 15 16 17 19 21 200
Sunshine hours 61 83 135 186 229 229 238 225 164 121 77 57 1,805
Source: Climate Data for Isles of Scilly[4]


Ancient history

An aerial photo of the Isles of Scilly
St Martin's taken from the helicopter to Penzance
View from Tresco, the second largest of the islands
Looking across Tresco, one of the 5 inhabited islands of the Isles of Scilly 45 km (27.96 mi) from the coast of Cornwall in the United Kingdom

Scilly has been inhabited since the Stone Age and its history has been one of subsistence living until the early 20th century. Farming and fishing continue today, but the main industry now is tourism.

The islands may correspond to the Cassiterides (Tin Isles) visited by the Phoenicians and mentioned by the Greeks. However, the archipelago itself does not contain much tin—it may be that they were used as a staging post from the mainland.

It is likely that until relatively recent times the Isles were much larger with many of them joined into one island, named Ennor. Rising sea levels flooded the central plain around 400–500 AD, forming the current islands.[5]

Evidence for the older large island includes:

  • A description in Roman times describes Scilly as "Scillonia insula" in the singular, as if there were a single island or an island much bigger than any of the others.
  • Remains of a prehistoric farm have been found on Nornour, which is now a small rocky skerry far too small for farming.[2][6]
  • At certain low tides the sea becomes shallow enough for people to walk between some of the islands. This is possibly one of the sources for stories of drowned lands, e.g. Lyonesse.
  • Ancient field walls are visible below the high tide line off some of the islands (e.g. Samson).
  • Some of the Cornish language place names also appear to reflect past shorelines, and former land areas.[7]
  • The whole of southern England has been steadily sinking in opposition to post-glacial rebound in Scotland: this has caused the rias (drowned river valleys) on the southern Cornish coast, e.g. River Fal and the Tamar Estuary.

Offshore, midway between Land's End and the Isles of Scilly, is the supposed location of the mythical lost land of Lyonesse, referred to in Arthurian literature. This may be a folk memory of inundated lands, but this legend is also common amongst the Brythonic peoples; the legend of Ys is a parallel and cognate legend in Brittany.

Scilly has been identified as the place of exile of two heretical 4th century bishops, Instantius and Tiberianus, who were followers of Priscillian.[8]

Norse and Norman period

Olaf Tryggvason, who supposedly visited the islands in 986. It is said an encounter with a cleric there led him to Christianise Norway
At the time of King Cnut, the Isles of Scilly fell outside England, as did Wales and Cornwall

In 995 Olaf Tryggvason would become King Olaf I of Norway. Born c. 960, Olaf had raided various European cities and fought in several wars. In 986 however, he (supposedly) met a Christian seer on the Isles of Scilly. In Snorri Sturluson's Royal Sagas of Norway, it is stated that this seer told him:

Thou wilt become a renowned king, and do celebrated deeds. Many men wilt thou bring to faith and baptism, and both to thy own and others' good; and that thou mayst have no doubt of the truth of this answer, listen to these tokens. When thou comest to thy ships many of thy people will conspire against thee, and then a battle will follow in which many of thy men will fall, and thou wilt be wounded almost to death, and carried upon a shield to thy ship; yet after seven days thou shalt be well of thy wounds, and immediately thou shalt let thyself be baptised.

The legend continues that, as the seer foretold, Olaf was attacked by a group of mutineers upon returning to his ships. As soon as he had recovered from his wounds, he let himself be baptised. He then stopped raiding Christian cities and lived in England and Ireland. In 995 he used an opportunity to return to Norway. When he arrived, the Haakon Jarl was already facing a revolt. Olaf Tryggvason persuaded the rebels to accept him as their king, and Haakon Jarl was killed by his own slave, while he was hiding from the rebels in a pig sty.

With the Norman Conquest, the Isles of Scilly came more under centralised control. About twenty years later, the Domesday survey was conducted. The islands would have formed part of the "Exeter Domesday" circuit, which included Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire.

In the mid-12th century there was reportedly a Viking attack on the Isles of Scilly, called Syllingar by the Norse,[9] recorded in the Orkneyinga sagaSweyn Asleifsson "went south, under Ireland, and seized a barge belonging to some monks in Syllingar and plundered it."[9] (Chap LXXIII)

"...the three chiefs—Swein , Þorbjörn and Eirik—went out on a plundering expedition. They went first to the Suðreyar [Hebrides], and all along the west to the Syllingar, where they gained a great victory in Maríuhöfn on Columba's-mass [9 June], and took much booty. Then they returned to the Orkneys."[9]

"Maríuhöfn", literally means "Mary's Harbour/Haven". The name doesn't make it clear whether it referred to a harbour on a larger island than today's St Mary's, or a whole island.

It is generally considered that Cornwall, and possibly the Isles of Scilly came under the dominion of the English Crown late in the reign of Athelstan. In early times one group of islands was in the possession of a confederacy of hermits. King Henry I gave it to the abbey of Tavistock who established a priory on Tresco which was abolished at the Reformation.[10]

Later Middle Ages and early modern period

Scilly was one of the Hundreds of Cornwall (formerly known as Cornish Shires) in the early 19th century

At the turn of the 14th century, the Abbot and convent of Tavistock Abbey petitioned the king saying that they

"state that they hold certain isles in the sea between Cornwall and Ireland, of which the largest is called Scilly, to which ships come passing between France, Normandy, Spain, Bayonne, Gascony, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall: and, because they feel that in the event of a war breaking out between the kings of England and France, or between any of the other places mentioned, they would not have enough power to do justice to these sailors, they ask that they might exchange these islands for lands in Devon, saving the churches on the islands appropriated to them."[11]

William le Poer, coroner of Scilly, is recorded in 1305 as being worried about the extent of wrecking in the islands, and sending a petition to the King. The names provide a wide variety of origins, e.g. Robert and Henry Sage (English), Richard de Tregenestre (Cornish), Ace de Veldre (French), Davy Gogch (possibly Welsh, or Cornish), and Adam le Fuiz Yaldicz (Spanish?).

It is not known at what point the islands' inhabitants stopped speaking Cornish, but it seems to have gone into decline during the Middle Ages. The islands appear to have lost the old Celtic language before parts of Penwith on the mainland, in contrast to the history of Irish or Scottish Gaelic.

During the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians captured the isles, only to see their garrison mutiny and return the isles to the Royalists. By 1651, the Royalist governor, Sir John Grenville, was using the islands as a base for privateering raids on Commonwealth and Dutch shipping. It was during this period that the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War started between the isles and the Netherlands. In June 1651, Admiral Robert Blake captured the isles for the Parliamentarians. Blake's initial attack, on Old Grimsby, failed, but the next attacks succeeded in taking Tresco and Bryher. Blake set up a battery on Tresco to fire on St Mary's, but one of the guns exploded, killing its crew and injuring Blake himself. A second battery proved more successful. Subsequently, Grenville and Blake negotiated terms that permitted the Royalists to surrender honourably. The Parliamentary forces then set to fortifying the islands. They built Cromwell's Castle—a gun platform on the west side of Tresco—using materials scavenged from an earlier gun platform further up the hill. Although this poorly-sited earlier platform dated back to the 1550s, it is now referred to as King Charles's Castle.

The islands appear to have been raided frequently by Barbary pirates.

Governors of Scilly

Since 1539 the Isles of Scilly have been administrated as a part of the Duchy of Cornwall. An early governor of Scilly was Thomas Godolphin, whose son Francis received a lease on the Isles in 1568. They were styled Governors of Scilly and the Godolphins and their Osborne relatives held this position until 1834. In 1834 Augustus John Smith acquired the lease from the Duchy for £20,000. Smith created the title Lord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly for himself, and many of his actions were unpopular. The lease remained in his family until it expired for most of the Isles in 1920 when ownership reverted to the Duchy of Cornwall. Today, the Dorrien-Smith estate still holds the lease for the island of Tresco.


The Scillonian Cross, the unofficial flag of the Isles of Scilly.
Saint Piran's Cross, the flag of Cornwall. The Isles of Scilly were one of the Hundreds of Cornwall, and although they are now a separate unitary authority, they are still part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall.

National government

The phrase "England and Cornwall" (or the Latin equivalent Anglia et Cornubia) remained in use after the Norman Conquest. Before the Tudor period, laws were typically designated as taking effect in Anglia et Cornubia. A similar situation exists today with the Isles of Scilly within Cornwall (i.e. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly). Both the relationship of Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly, and the constitutional status of Cornwall are a matter of some debate.

Politically, the islands are part of England, one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. They are represented in the United Kingdom Parliament as part of the St Ives constituency

As part of the United Kingdom, the islands are part of the European Union and are represented in the European Parliament as part of the multi-member South West England constituency.

Local government

Historically, the Isles of Scilly were administered as one of the hundreds of Cornwall, although the Cornwall quarter sessions had limited jurisdiction there. The archipelago is part of the Duchy of Cornwall, the Duke being the heir to the British throne, and he is allowed special rights and privileges in the islands.

The Local Government Act 1888 allowed the Local Government Board to establish in the Isles of Scilly "councils and other local authorities separate from those of the county of Cornwall"... "for the application to the islands of any act touching local government." Accordingly, in 1890 the Isles of Scilly Rural District Council (the RDC) was formed as a sui generis unitary authority, outside the administrative county of Cornwall. Cornwall County Council provided some services to the Isles, for which the RDC made financial contributions. Section 265 of the Local Government Act of 1972 allowed for the continued existence of the RDC, but renamed as the Council of the Isles of Scilly.[12][13]

This unusual status also means that much administrative law (for example relating to the functions of local authorities, the health service and other public bodies) that applies in the rest of England applies in modified form in the islands.[14]

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is a separate unitary authority to the Cornwall Council unitary authority, and as such the islands are not part of the administrative county of Cornwall. However the islands are still considered to be part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall. Some areas of local government are shared with Cornwall, such as health, and the two councils submitted a joint bid for a Cornwall and Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

With a total population of just over 2,000, the council represents fewer inhabitants than many English parish councils, and is by far the smallest English unitary council. The latest elections took place on the 4 June 2009; there were 21 elected councillors (all independent), 13 elected by St Mary's residents and two each elected by residents of Bryher, St Martins, St Agnes and Tresco. There are also some 164 staff employed by the council. These numbers are significant in that almost 10 per cent of the population is directly linked to the council as either an employee or councillor.[15]

For judicial purposes, shrievalty and lieutenancy purposes the Isles of Scilly are "deemed to form part of the county of Cornwall".[16]


There are primarily two flags used to represent Scilly:

  • The flag of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, which incorporates their logo.[17]
  • The unofficial Scillonian Cross, voted for by readers of Scilly News in 2002.[17][18]

An adapted version of the old Board of Ordnance flag has also been used, after it was left behind when munitions were removed from the isles. The Cornish Ensign has also been used.[17][19]


Carn Thomas Secondary School, St Mary's

Education is available on the islands up to age 16. There is one school, the Five Islands School, which provides primary schooling at sites on St Agnes, St Mary's, St Martin's and Tresco, and secondary schooling at a site on St Mary's. Secondary students from outside St Mary's live at a school boarding house (Mundesley House) during the week. In 2004, 92.9% of pupils (26 out of 28) achieved 5 or more GCSEs at grade C and above, compared to the English average of 53.7%.[20] Sixteen to eighteen year olds are entitled to a free sixth form place at a state school or sixth form college on the mainland, and are provided with free flights and a grant towards accommodation. Post eighteen, suitably qualified students attend universities and colleges on the mainland.


Historical context

Since the mid-eighteenth century the Scillionian economy has relied on trade with the mainland and beyond as a means of sustaining its population. Over the years the nature of this trade has varied, due to wider economic and political factors that have seen the rise and fall of industries such as kelp harvesting, pilotage, smuggling, fishing, shipbuilding and, latterly, flower farming. In a study of the Scillionian economy by Neate in 1987, it was found that many farms on the islands were struggling to remain profitable due to increasing costs and strong competition from overseas producers resulting in a diversification into tourism. Recent statistics suggest that agriculture on the islands now represents less than 2 percent of all employment.[21][22][23]


The Daymark is the nearest point to the mainland of Cornwall. St Martins, Isles of Scilly, Great Britain

Today, tourism is estimated to account for 85 per cent of the islands' income. The islands have been successful in attracting this investment due to their special environment, favourable summer climate, relaxed culture, efficient co-ordination of tourism providers and good transport links by sea and air to the mainland, uncommon in scale to similar sized island communities.[24][25] The majority of visitors stay on St Mary's, which has a concentration of holiday accommodation and other amenities. Of the other inhabited islands, Tresco is run as a timeshare resort, and is consequently the most obviously tourist-oriented. Bryher and St Martin's are more unspoilt, although each has a hotel and other accommodation. St Agnes has no hotel and is the least developed of the inhabited islands.

However the level of dependency on tourism is high, even by the standards of other island communities. “The concentration [on] a small number of sectors is typical of most similarly sized UK island communities. However, it is the degree of concentration, which is distinctive along with the overall importance of tourism within the economy as a whole and the very limited manufacturing base that stands out.”[22]

Tourism is also a highly seasonal industry owing to its reliance on outdoor recreation, and the low level of tourist activity in winter causes a near shut-down of the islands during that season. However, the tourist season benefits from an extended period of business in October when many birdwatchers (or birders) arrive.


Because of its position, Scilly is the first landing for many migrant birds, including extreme rarities from North America and Siberia. Scilly is situated far into the Atlantic Ocean, so many American vagrant birds will make first European landfall in the archipelago.

Scilly is responsible for many firsts for Britain, and is particularly good at producing vagrant American passerines. If an extremely rare bird turns up, the island will see a significant increase in numbers of birders. This type of birding, chasing after rare birds, is called 'twitching'.

The islands are home to ornithologist Will Wagstaff.


The predominance of tourism means that "tourism is by far the main sector throughout each of the individual islands, in terms of employment… [and] this is much greater than other remote and rural areas in the United Kingdom”. Tourism accounts for approximately 63 per cent of all employment.[22]

Businesses dependent on tourism, with the exception of a few hotels, tend to be small enterprises typically employing fewer than 4 people; many of these are family run, suggesting an entrepreneurial culture amongst the local population.[22] However, much of the work generated by this, with the exception of management, is low skilled and thus poorly paid, especially for those involved in cleaning, catering and retail.[26]

Because of the seasonality of tourism, many jobs on the islands are seasonal and part time, so work cannot be guaranteed throughout the year. Some islanders take up other temporary jobs ‘out of season’ to compensate for this. Due to a lack of local casual labour at peak holiday times, many of the larger employers accommodate guest workers, who come to the islands for the summer to have a ‘working holiday’.


The islands were not subject to Income Tax until 1954, and there was no motor vehicle excise duty levied until 1971.[27]


Tresco Heliport
Scillonian III approaching St Mary's Harbour

The islands are linked to the mainland by both air and sea services, and rely on boat services for inter-island connections. St. Mary's is the only island with a significant road network; in 2005 there were 619 cars and vans on St Mary's. Vehicles on the islands are exempt from annual MOT tests.[28][29]

By air, the islands are served by St. Mary's Airport on the main island of St. Mary's and by Tresco Heliport on the island of Tresco. The following air services currently operate:

By sea, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company provides a passenger and cargo service from Penzance to St Mary's: Scillonian III passenger ferry and Gry Maritha cargo vessel. The other islands are linked to St. Mary's by a network of inter-island launches.[32]


The freehold of the islands is the property of the Duchy of Cornwall (except for Hugh Town on St Mary's, which was sold to the inhabitants in 1949). The duchy also holds 3,921 acres (16 km2) as duchy property, part of the duchy's landholding.[33] All the uninhabited islands, islets and rocks and much of the untenanted land on the inhabited islands is managed by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, which leases these lands from the Duchy for the rent of one daffodil per year.[34] The Trust currently has three salaried staff and twelve trustees, who are all residents of the Isles. The full Trust Board is responsible for policy whilst a Management Team is responsible for day to day administration. Its small income and the small number of staff have led to the Trust adopting a policy of recruiting volunteers to help it carry out its extensive work programme. While volunteers of all ages are welcome, most are young people who are studying for qualifications in related fields, such as conservation and land management.

Limited housing availability is a contentious yet critical issue for the Isles of Scilly, especially as it affects the feasibility of residency on the islands. Few properties are privately owned, with many units being let by the Duchy of Cornwall, the Council, and a few by housing associations. The management of these subsequently affects the possibility of residency on the islands.[35]

Housing demand outstrips supply; a problem compounded by restrictions on further development designed to protect the islands' unique environment and prevent the infrastructural carrying capacity from being exceeded. This has pushed up the prices of the few private properties that become available and, significantly for the majority of the island's population, it has also had an impact on the rental sector where rates have likewise drastically increased.[36][37]

High housing costs pose significant problems for the local population, especially as local incomes (in Cornwall) are only 70% of the national average, whilst house prices are almost £5,000 higher than the national average. This in turn affects the retention of ‘key workers’ and the younger generation, which has a consequent impact upon the viability of the school(s) and other essential community services.[24][37]

The limited access to housing provokes strong local politics. It is often assumed that tourism is to blame for this, attracting incomers to the area who can afford to outbid locals for available housing. Many buildings are used for tourist accommodation which reduces the number available for local residents. Second homes are also thought to account for a significant proportion of the housing stock, leaving many buildings empty for much of the year.[38]

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

In 1975, the islands were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The designation covers the entire archipelago, including the uninhabited islands and rocks, and is the smallest such area in the UK. The islands of Annet and Samson have large terneries and the islands are well populated by seals. The Isles of Scilly are the only British haunt of the Lesser White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura suaveolens).

The islands are famous amongst birdwatchers, especially twitchers for their almost magnetic ability to attract rare birds from all corners of the globe. The peak time of year for this is generally in October when it is not unusual for several of the rarest birds in Europe to share this archipelago. One reason for the success of these islands in producing rarities is the extensive coverage these islands get from birdwatchers, but archipelagos are often favoured by rare birds which like to make landfall and eat there before continuing their journeys and often arrive on far flung islands first.



One continuing legacy of the isles' past is gig racing, wherein fast rowing boats ("gigs") with crews of six (or in one case, seven) race between the main islands. Gig racing has been said to derive from the race to collect salvage from shipwrecks on the rocks around Scilly, but the race was actually to deliver a pilot onto incoming vessels, to guide them through the hazardous reefs and shallows. (The boats are correctly termed "pilot gigs"). The World Pilot Gig Championships take place every year over the May Day bank holiday weekend. The event originally involved crews from the Islands and a few crews from Cornwall, but in the intervening years the amount of pilot gigs attending has increased with crews coming from all over the South-West and some from even further afield.[39]

The Isles of Scilly feature what is reportedly the smallest football league in the world, the Isles of Scilly Football League. The league's two clubs, Woolpack Wanderers and Garrison Gunners, play each other seventeen times a season and compete for two cups as well as the league title. The league was a launching pad for the adidas "Dream Big" Campaign[40] in which a number of famous professional footballers (including David Beckham) arrive on the island to coach the local children's side. The two share a ground, Garrison Field, but travel to the mainland for part of the year to play other non-professional clubs.

In December 2006, Sport England published a survey which revealed that residents of the Isles of Scilly were the most active in England in sports and other fitness activities. 32% of the population participate at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.[41]

As well as football the isles of Scilly also see a relatively small amount of boulderers as the islands are littered with beautiful white granite boulders. At the present time most of the bouldering is undeveloped but in recent months there has been a growing interest in the area and a small number of boulder problems have been put up on Tresco. Scilly is also a popular scuba diving area.


There is a small transmitter relay on St.Mary's island, which covers BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 & 4 as well as BBC Radio Cornwall. Radio Scilly, a community radio station, launched in September 2007. The amateur radio station M1IOS also operates on the islands as a permanent resident. The islands have their own designator among radio amateurs, EU-011, for the popular IOTA – Islands On The Air award, issued by the Radio Society of Great Britain, RSGB.

Freeview has been receivable on the islands since 5 August 2009 when the Redruth transmitting station was upgraded for digital signal.[42]

There is no local newspaper; "The Scillonian" and "The Islander" are published quarterly which report matters of local interest. A maximum ADSL speed of 8Mbit/s is available to all of the inhabited islands.

The Isles of Scilly were featured on the TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of South West England. Since 2007 the islands have featured in the BBC series An Island Parish, following various real life stories and featuring in particular the newly appointed Chaplain to the Isles of Scilly. A 12-part series was filmed in 2007 and debuted on BBC2 in January 2008.[43] This has since been followed by further series.

In literature

  • The novel Unnatural Selection (2006) by Aaron Elkins is set on St. Mary's isle.
  • Michael Jecks set his carefully researched medieval mystery novel The Outlaws of Ennor (2003) in the 14th century Isles of Scilly. In his "Acknowledgements" he lists a good number of books dealing with or touching on Scilly during the Middle Ages, especially Charles Thomas's Explorations of a Drowned Landscape: Archaeology and History of the Isles of Scilly (1985).[citation needed]
  • Michael Morpurgo's books Why the Whales Came (1985), The Wreck of the Zanzibar (1995) and The Sleeping Sword (2002) are set on Scilly.[citation needed]
  • The fourth Wycliffe westcountry detective novel, Wycliffe and Death in a Salubrious Place (1973) is set on the Isles of Scilly.[citation needed]
  • In his first novel, Marazan (1927), Nevil Shute made Scilly the key setting of the thriller. The name Marazan was supposedly the name of a shallow sound, between two islands, White and Pendruan, with a third, Crab Pot, between them, supposedly lying to the north of the main group. These appear to be fictional creations.[citation needed]
  • The children's book, The Enchanted Islands: A Modern Fairy Tale (1941), written by Averil Demuth, appears likely to have been set on the Isles of Scilly. The author refers to them as the Western Isles or the Cassiterides, and has given different names to the islands and settlements which are mentioned in the book.[citation needed]

In music

The whimsical song "Phenomenal Cat", from the 1968 album The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks, contains the line: "...Sardinia, and Katmandu/ The Scilly Isles, the Sahara too."

Scilly is one of the key markers in the chorus of the traditional sea shanty "Spanish Ladies", used by sailors to memorize the return approach into the English Channel.

The 1982 Blondie video "Island of Lost Souls" was filmed on The Isles of Scilly.


  1. ^ "County flower of Isles of Scilly". Plantlife International – The Wild Plant Conservation Charity. Retrieved 7 April 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Thorgrim. "Nornour". Retrieved 18 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "Local Climate Profile" (PDF). Council of the Isles of Scilly. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Average Weather for Isles of Scilly, ENG — Temperature and Precipitation". 
  5. ^ "Ancient Sites on the Isles of Scilly". Cornwall in focus. Retrieved 15 October 2008. 
  6. ^ Dudley, Dorothy. "Excavations on Nor'Nour in the Isles of Scilly, 1962-6", in The Archaeological Journal, CXXIV, 1967 (includes the description of over 250 Roman fibulae found at the site)
  7. ^ Weatherhill, Craig (2007) Cornish Placenames and Language. Wilmslow: Sigma Leisure.
  8. ^ "Priscillianus and Priscillianism". Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of Sixth Century.,%20Priscillian. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c Anderson, Joseph (Ed.) (1893) Orkneyinga saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. James Thin and Mercat Press (1990 reprint). ISBN 0-901824-25-9
  10. ^ Cornish Church Guide; p. 194
  11. ^ National Archives
  12. ^ "Isles of Scilly Cornwall through time". Retrieved 19 January 2007. 
  13. ^ "Isles of Scilly RD Cornwall through time". Retrieved 19 January 2007. 
  14. ^ Examples include the Health and Social Care Act 2003, section 198 and the Environment Act 1995, section 117.
  15. ^ "Council of the Isles of Scilly Corporate Assessment December 2002" (pdf). Audit Commission. Retrieved 21 January 2007. 
  16. ^ Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c.70) section 216(2)
  17. ^ a b c "Isles of Scilly (United Kingdom)". Retrieved 16 January 2007. 
  18. ^ "How Do You Get A Scillonian Cross". Scilly Archive. Retrieved 16 January 2007. 
  19. ^ "Cornwall (United Kingdom)". Retrieved 16 January 2007. 
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Further reading

  • Woodley, George (1822) A View of the Present State of the Scilly Islands: exhibiting their vast importance to the British empire, the improvements of which they are susceptible, and a particular account of the means lately adopted for the amelioration of the condition of the inhabitants, by the establishment and extension of their fisheries. 344 p. London: Rivington

External links

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