Isles of Scilly

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Isles of Scilly
Unofficial flag of the Isles of Scilly
Scilly-Inseln Birmingham Coventry Metropolitan Borough of Solihull Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough of Walsall Sandwell Metropolitan Borough of Dudley Kirklees City of Wakefield City of Leeds City of Bradford Calderdale North Tyneside South Tyneside City of Sunderland Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead Newcastle upon Tyne Metropolitan Borough of Wirral Liverpool Metropolitan Borough of Sefton Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough of St Helens Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley Sheffield Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough of Wigan City of Salford Trafford Manchester Metropolitan Borough of Stockport Tameside Metropolitan Borough of Oldham Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough of Bury Metropolitan Borough of Bolton Frankreich Irland Isle of Man Schottland Nordirland Wales Greater London Surrey Buckinghamshire Kent Essex Hertfordshire Suffolk Norfolk Lincolnshire Rutland Cambridgeshire East Sussex West Sussex Isle of Wight Hampshire Dorset Devon (England) Cornwall Bristol Somerset Wiltshire Gloucestershire Leicestershire Northamptonshire Oxfordshire Herefordshire Warwickshire Worcestershire West Midlands (Metropolitan County) Shropshire Staffordshire Nottinghamshire Derbyshire Cheshire Merseyside Greater Manchester South Yorkshire East Riding of Yorkshire West Yorkshire Lancashire North Yorkshire Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear County Durham (Unitary Authority) Darlington Borough of Stockton-on-Tees Middlesbrough Redcar and Cleveland Hartlepool Blackburn with Darwen City of York Kingston upon Hull North East Lincolnshire Borough of Halton Borough of Warrington Cheshire West and Chester Stoke-on-Trent Telford and Wrekin Derby (Derbyshire) Nottingham Leicester City of Peterborough Borough of Swindon Southend-on-Sea Borough of Medway Thurrock Bedfordshire Borough of Milton Keynes Luton Central Bedfordshire North Somerset South Gloucestershire Bath and North East Somerset Plymouth Torbay Scilly-Inseln Poole Bournemouth Southampton Portsmouth Brighton and Hove Reading West Berkshire Wokingham Bracknell Forest Slough Windsor and MaidenheadIsles of Scilly
About this picture
Location of the islands in England
Basic data
status Unitary Authority , sui generis
region South West England
Ceremony county Cornwall
Administrative headquarters Hugh Town
surface 16.33 km²
Residents (June 30, 2018) 2242
ONS code 3pm

The Scilly Isles ([ ˈsɪli ], English Scilly Isles or Scillies , officially Isles of Scilly , Cornish Ynysek Syllan ) are a group of more than 140 islands and over 90 rocks off the south-western tip of England . They are located about 45 km southwest of Land's End in the Atlantic , near the western end of the English Channel . Of the 55 or so larger islands, five are inhabited today. The Scillies form a unitary authority and belong to the ceremonial county of Cornwall .


The exact origin of the name is considered unclear. In any case, the letter -c- was not added to the name until the 17th century to distinguish it from the English word silly , which assumed a negative meaning from this time on. In older sources many variants and spellings of the island name can be found; the Roman author Pliny has the forms Silumnus and Silimnis .


Because of the Gulf Stream , the islands have a very mild, almost subtropical and constant climate with many sunny days and a temperature difference between summer and winter mean of only about 9 ° C. Sub-tropical trees (e.g. pine trees ) and plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas grow on the islands .

Administrative division

The archipelago is divided into five Civil Parishes , which are also wards :

Civil Parish Area
in km²
( census of
March 27, 2011)
main place  
Bryher ... 84 Bryher  
St. Agnes 3.22 169 Saint Agnes  
St. Martin's 2.76 136 Higher Town  
St. Mary's 6.57 1723 Hugh Town  
Tresco 3.83 91 New Grimsby  
total 16.4 2203 Hugh Town  
Isles of Scilly Administrative Map


In 2012 there were 2264 inhabitants on the islands. In earlier centuries the smaller islands were more populated. Another island south of Bryher , Samson (0.38 km²), had been inhabited by a family since 1669. 160 years later, around 30 people lived there. The last ten residents were relocated to other islands in 1855. The remains of the six houses can be viewed.

Isles of Scilly on historical map from 1874
Ordnance Survey Map (1964)
NASA image of the islands on March 10, 2007
St. Martin's
Climate diagram of St. Mary's

The most important islands at a glance:

island Population
( 2001-04-29 census )
in km²
main place
St. Mary’s (main island) 1666 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 ) 70 1.48 Saint Agnes
Bryher (with Gweal ) 92 1.327 Bryher
Samson - 1) 0.38
Annet - 0.21
St. Helen's - 0.20
Teän - 0.16
Great Ganilly - 0.13
remaining 45 islands - 0.50
total 2153 16.03 Hugh Town

1) Inhabited until 1855


Before the end of the last glacial period , the sea level was 80 to 100 meters lower, and today's islands formed a large, connected island. It was settled from nearby Cornwall in the Mesolithic . More than 500 Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments can be found on the Isles of Scilly, around 30 of which are only visible at low tide. The sunken, but archaeologically excavated places consist of ten hut foundations, seven stone boxes , several graves, four walled enclosures and twelve other objects. There is a sunken forest in Mount's Bay and fishermen report underwater houses near the Longships lighthouse. There are over 80 Entrance Graves on the islands from the Neolithic Age . The most famous archaeological sites are:

Chamber tomb on Kittern Hill
Old Man of Gugh

Round cairns with a diameter of up to 40 m, but mostly much smaller, date from the Bronze Age (2000–700 BC). They are made of earth and stones and cover single or multiple burials. Curbs sometimes border the hill. The burials were placed in small pits or in stone boxes set into the surface of the earth or dug in cairns. The round hills, which make up a large proportion of the 387 preserved cairns, can appear as isolated monuments, in small groups or on larger burial grounds. Their considerable variation in shape and longevity as a monument type provides important information about beliefs, burial practices, and social organization during the Bronze Age.

During the English Civil War , the supporters of the monarchy were ousted from the British Isles. The loyal navy then withdrew to the Isles of Scilly, which were the domain of the royalist Sir John Grenville (1643-1701). After fighting, the Dutch admiral Maarten Tromp , who anchored his ships off Scilly, demanded reparations from the royalists on May 30, 1651 to compensate for the piracy . Not getting a satisfactory answer, he declared war. In June, however, the loyal naval force had to capitulate to Admiral Robert Blake , who conquered the islands for the parliamentary army. The Dutch ships off Scilly withdrew without having entered into war. In response to a request from the islands' historian and council chairman, Roy Duncan, to the London Representation of the Netherlands in 1985, it was confirmed by the latter that Scilly was officially still at war with the Netherlands. On April 17, 1986, Duncan and Ambassador Rein Huydecoper signed a peace treaty in the Isles of Scilly . At that time there was talk of the Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Years War (1651–1986). Critics such as local historian Rex Lyon Bowley argue that the alleged war is a myth. Tromp had no authority to declare a state of war. Such a step probably also did not correspond to the foreign policy interests of the Netherlands. Even if the declaration of war was valid, the conflict was formally ended with the end of the first Anglo-Dutch war on April 5, 1654.

The Isles of Scilly have always been difficult to navigate because of the many cliffs and underwater rocks, and despite the lighthouses built in the 19th century, the Bishop Rock lighthouse is the westernmost in England, some ships were fatal. The islands were the scene of one of the greatest shipping disasters in the history of England : On the night of October 22, 1707, a fleet of 21 Royal Navy ships under the command of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell ran aground on the Isles of Scilly. Four of the ships leaked and sank, in addition to the admiral there were 1,450 other dead. The cause is inadequate positioning and ignorance of the longitude , and incorrect maps and navigation tables are now also accepted. Among the wrecks in the Isles of Scilly is that of the Thomas W. Lawson . She was one of the largest sailing ships and the only seven-masted schooner in the world . She sank in December 1907 after stranding, breaking up and capsizing in a storm near Annet. Only two crewmen survived. The shipwreck caused one of the first oil disasters , because the schooner drove as a tanker .

The islands were named the Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1975 and thus placed under special protection. The decisive factor were the uninhabited islands with their large bird and seal colonies, such as Annet and Samson .

The established sea ​​routes across the North Atlantic began at the Isles of Scilly (and Fastnet ) .

Lord Proprietors of the Scilly Islands

The Scilly Isles were part of the 1539 county Cornwall . From 1568 to 1830, the Godolphin family received the islands from the English crown as a fief . The fiefs were allowed to call themselves Governor of Scilly . In 1834 the fief went to Augustus John Smith and his heirs. In 1920 the fiefdom of most of the islands was extinguished.

Diving tourism

Over 800 wrecks from more than a thousand years of history lie on the seabed in front of the archipelago. Many of them are easily accessible for divers , which is why the sea off the Isles of Scilly is a popular diving spot for wreck diving .


There are a number of traditional sporting events on the archipelago, which are held regularly. In addition to an annual race in gig boats, there are also two soccer teams on the main island of St. Mary's. The Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers play 16 times against each other in the “smallest league in the world” and also play three cup games. In total, the "Isles of Scilly Football League" has four different competitions.

competition Woolpack Wanderers Garrison Gunners
Charity Shield 8th 2
Lioness Shield 7th 3
Foredeck Cup 2 2
Wholesalers Cup 2 2


  • Paul Ashbee: Ancient Scilly From thr first Farmers to the early Christians Newton Abbot 1974
  • Rex L. Bowley: Scilly at War. Bowley, St. Mary's 2001, ISBN 0-900184-34-5 .
  • Julian Cope: The Modern Antiquarian. A Pre-millennial Odyssey through Megalithic Britain. Including a Gazetteer to Over 300 Prehistoric Sites. Thorsons, London 1998, ISBN 0-7225-3599-6 .
  • Gary Robinson: The Prehistoric Island Landscape of Scilly (= British Archaeological Reports. British Series. 447). Archaeopress, Oxford 2007, ISBN 978-1-4073-0145-7 .
  • George Woodley: A View of the Present State of the Scilly Islands. sn, London 1822, ( digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Isles of Scilly  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Mid 2018 Estimates of the population for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  2. ^ Scilly Council: About the Council of the Isles of Scilly
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary sv Scilly , accessed March 21, 2017
  4. City population: South West England
  5. Isles Of Scilly, England ( Memento of the original from August 13, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ,, accessed: January 10, 2011 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Official website of the Council of the Isles of Scilly ( Memento of the original from May 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed April 10, 2011) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from September 28, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

Coordinates: 49 ° 56 ′  N , 6 ° 19 ′  W