NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly, often referred to simply as Scilly, is an archipelago located in the Celtic Sea, southwest of the mainland of Cornwall, England.

These may have formed part of the legendary land of Lyonesse. Three of the islands are today called Great Arthur, Middle Arthur and Little Arthur. These three once formed a single island and there may have been a tradition that Arthur was buried there.

Lyonesse, the land of Tristan, was said to have spanned the distance between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, but it sank into the sea.

Isles of Scilly | 0 to the 9th century AD

Prehistoric Settlement
The history of the Isles of Scilly is part of the broader historical context of Britain during the early medieval period. The Isles of Scilly have evidence of human habitation dating back to the prehistoric period, with the presence of megalithic structures, such as chambered tombs and standing stones. The Celtic people likely had a presence in the Isles of Scilly during the Iron Age. Celtic cultures, which were prevalent in various parts of Britain, may have influenced the early inhabitants of the islands.

Roman and Early Medieval Periods
The Isles of Scilly were not a major focus of Roman occupation, and there is limited evidence of Roman influence on the islands. It is believed that the islands were on the periphery of Roman activities in Britain. The transition from Roman Britain to the early medieval period saw a continuation of Celtic influence. Roman artifacts and coins have been found on the islands, suggesting some level of interaction.

With the withdrawal of Roman forces in Britain in the early fifth century, the British Isles entered a period of transition. The Isles of Scilly, like other parts of Britain, likely continued to be inhabited by Celtic peoples. However, specific historical records from this period are limited.

Viking Age | 8th – 9th centuries
The Viking Age, roughly from the late eighth to eleventh centuries, saw Norse exploration and settlement in various parts of the British Isles. The Vikings, known for their seafaring abilities, targeted coastal regions in search of resources and opportunities for settlement. The Viking influence on the Isles of Scilly led to the establishment of Norse settlements and rule.

The islands became part off the Norse Kingdom of the Isles, which included other islands in the Irish Sea and the western coast of Scotland. The Norse influence on the Isles of Scilly left a lasting mark on the culture, place names, and traditions of the islands.

Archaeological excavations on the Isles of Scilly have revealed evidence of early Christian and Norse influences, including Christian gravestones and artifacts. These findings suggest that the islands were part of the cultural and trade networks of the time.

Strategic Importance
The strategic location of the Isles of Scilly in the maritime routes between Cornwall, Ireland, and Brittany likely made them important for trade and navigation. The islands may have served as a stopping point or temporary settlement for seafarers.