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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Island buildings to be preserved
Fireplace with lintels from shipwreck timbers on Samson
This fireplace made from shipwreck timbers is in danger of collapsing
A number of buildings on an uninhabited island in the Scillies, 26 miles off Cornwall, are to be preserved as part of a conservation programme.

Work will begin in July on cottages on Samson, many of which are in imminent danger of collapse.

Samson has been unoccupied since the last islanders left in 1855.

During National Archaeology Week, which runs from 15-23 July, there will also be opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the project.

'Rare example'

They will be given guided tours of the island, instruction in archaeological recording techniques and vegetation management as well as illustrated talks.

Charlie Johns, senior archaeologist at Cornwall County Council said: "It is a rare example of a fossilised post-medieval landscape unchanged by modern development."

Invasive plants growing in the earth mortar of the walls are one of the main threats to the buildings, the importance of which Mr Johns says "cannot be overstated".

The population of Samson reached a peak in 1829 with 36 residents but by 1855 had fallen to 10 and the island was evacuated.

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