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Eight platform cairns and incorporated prehistoric irregular field system south west of Carn of Cove Vean on Wingletang Down

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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Coordinates

Latitude: 49.8895 / 49°53'22"N

Longitude: -6.3383 / 6°20'17"W

OS Eastings: 88511.478954

OS Northings: 7839.01889

OS Grid: SV885078

Mapcode National: GBR BXQZ.CL1

Mapcode Global: VGYCB.311J

Entry Name: Eight platform cairns and incorporated prehistoric irregular field system south west of Carn of Cove Vean on Wingletang Down

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 4 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009279

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15340

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a group of eight prehistoric platform cairns situated
from 17m to 145m south west of the Carn of Cove Vean outcrops at the
north east corner of Wingletang Down on St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly. The
banks of a prehistoric irregular field system survives over the same area of
the Down, linking all except two of the platform cairns.
The cairns are dispersed into three sectors within the area of the monument.
On the highest ground in the north east of the monument is a closely spaced
triangular arrangement of three cairns, 8m-10m apart; situated 25m to the
south west of those three is a pair of cairns, 3m apart on a WSW-ENE axis. The
other three cairns in the group are situated 22m-33m apart to form a well
spaced triangular arrangement at the south west of the monument.
Each platform cairn survives with a mound of heaped rubble rising to a
flattened upper surface forming the platform. The cairns in the north east
sector variously contain additional features, including a funerary chamber, a
kerb and natural outcrops or boulders; the other cairns in this monument are
visible with mounds only.
Of the north eastern three cairns, the northern cairn survives with a
sub-circular mound measuring 7m north east to south west by 6.5m north west to
south east and rising 0.5m high. The edge of the platform is defined along its
SSE sector by a kerb, visible as a row of contiguous small slabs, up to 0.3m
high, extending for 3.75m. An unrecorded antiquarian excavation has resulted
in a slight hollow, 1m in diameter and 0.15m deep, in the north eastern part
of the platform.
Located 8m to the south, the southern cairn in this sector survives with a
sub-circular mound, 7.5m in diameter, rising up to 0.6m high to a platform, 5m
in diameter. The platform incorporates a group of small natural outcrops, up
to 0.7m high, which extend from the centre to the WSW edge of the platform
area. To the north west of these outcrops, the platform edge is defined by a
slight scarp along the edge of the rubble mound. The south east half of the
platform is occupied by a sub-triangular funerary chamber, built against the
platform's outcrops which serve to define its north west side. The eastern
side of the chamber is defined by a row of four slabs, up to 0.75m high, along
the platform's eastern edge, while the southern side of the chamber is closed
by a single large edge-set slab, 1.7m long and rising 0.65m above the
platform. Beyond the mound's perimeter, an edge-set slab, 0.5m long and 0.3m
high, located 5m south west of the mound's centre, forms the most prominent
stone in a kerb whose other, slighter, stones are detectable at a similar
distance beyond the western perimeter of the mound, barely, if at all,
protruding through the turf.
The western cairn in the north eastern sector is situated 10m north west of
the southern cairn and survives with a circular mound 7m in diameter and up to
0.75m high, incorporating a large, sub-triangular, natural boulder measuring
4.2m north east to south west by 2.25m north west to south east, rising 0.8m
high. Five erect slabs, up to 0.7m high, protrude from the platform surface,
four to the north west of the natural boulder and one to its south east.
In the pair of cairns 25m south west of the north eastern sector, the WSW
cairn has a mound 4.5m in diameter and up to 0.4m high, while the mound of the
ENE cairn measures 5m in diameter and 0.25m high.
In the monument's south western sector, the northern cairn survives with a
circular mound 5.5m in diameter and 0.45m high; the cairn 22m to its
south east survives with a mound 5m in diameter and 0.4m high, with an
irregular hollow, 1.5m diameter and 0.1m deep, resulting from an unrecorded
antiquarian excavation. A further 33m to the WSW, the south western cairn in
this sector measures 5m in diameter and rises 0.5m high.
The prehistoric irregular field system survives over the 0.65ha along the
north eastern edge of Wingletang Down, overlapping with the area occupied by
the cairn group and displaying a direct relationship with the cairns in its
layout. The field system is defined by banks of heaped rubble, up to 1.75m
wide and 0.3m high, generally turf-covered but occasionally with a row of
small slabs protruding along the midline. Parts of at least two small plots
are visible, each truncated by the modern wall enclosing the Down to the west
and north. In the south western sector of the monument, straight banks link
all three cairns to form a near right-angled corner, almost completely
enclosing an area of 0.12ha extending ENE from the Down's modern enclosure
wall. To the north east, a further adjacent area of 0.17ha against the modern
enclosure wall is defined by a bank running ENE from the northern cairn in the
south western sector; this bank extends as a straight line ENE for 43m then
curves north to the modern wall. Where it curves to the north, another bank
branches to curve east, then south, on a semicircular course. This curving
bank incorporates the western cairn in the monument's north eastern sector in
its line and ends as a visible feature almost at the ENE edge of the
westernmost cairn of the close-spaced pair. A further short bank branches ENE
from the curving bank to link the western and northern cairns in the north
eastern sector.
The cairns in this monument form part of a more dispersed group containing at
least 44 cairns of various types dispersed about the heathland and abundant
granite outcrops of Wingletang Down, the broad southern peninsula of St Agnes.
Other parts of prehistoric field systems border the northern edges of the
Down, from 150m to the west, adjacent to another cairn, while a prehistoric
boundary links two other cairns in this dispersed group, 110m south of this
monument.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Isles of Scilly, the westernmost of the granite masses of south west
England, contain a remarkable abundance and variety of archaeological remains
from over 4000 years of human activity. The remote physical setting of the
islands, over 40km beyond the mainland in the approaches to the English
Channel, has lent a distinctive character to those remains, producing many
unusual features important for our broader understanding of the social
development of early communities.
Throughout the human occupation there has been a gradual submergence of the
islands' land area, providing a stimulus to change in the environment and its
exploitation. This process has produced evidence for responses to such change
against an independent time-scale, promoting integrated studies of
archaeological, environmental and linguistic aspects of the islands'
settlement.
The islands' archaeological remains demonstrate clearly the gradually
expanding size and range of contacts of their communities. By the post-
medieval period (from AD 1540), the islands occupied a nationally strategic
location, resulting in an important concentration of defensive works
reflecting the development of fortification methods and technology from the
mid 16th to the 20th centuries. An important and unusual range of post-
medieval monuments also reflects the islands' position as a formidable hazard
for the nation's shipping in the western approaches.
The exceptional preservation of the archaeological remains on the islands has
long been recognised, producing an unusually full and detailed body of
documentation, including several recent surveys.

Platform cairns are funerary monuments of Early Bronze Age date (c.2000-1600
BC). They were constructed as low flat-topped mounds of stone rubble, up to
40m in external diameter though usually considerably smaller, covering single
or multiple burials. Some examples have other features, including peripheral
banks and internal mounds constructed on the platform. A kerb of slabs or
edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the platform, and a peripheral
bank or mound if present. Platform cairns can occur as isolated monuments, in
small groups or in cairn cemeteries. In cemeteries they are normally found
alongside cairns of other types.
Although no precise figure is available, current evidence indicates that,
excluding the Isles of Scilly, there are under 250 known examples of this
monument class nationally. On the Isles of Scilly, platform cairns form one of
the recurrent types of small cairn represented in cairn cemeteries.
Consequently they form a high proportion of the 387 surviving cairns recorded
on the Isles of Scilly. As a rare monument type exhibiting considerable
variation in form, a substantial proportion of surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection. The presence of platform cairns as a
recurrent type of small cairn on the Isles of Scilly is unusual and a
distinctive expression of this monument class.
Irregular field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to
have been employed in the Isles of Scilly from the Bronze Age to the Roman
period (c.2000 BC-AD 400); closer dating within that period may be provided
by the visible relationships of the field boundaries to other classes of
monument with a shorter known time-span of use, or by their relationship with
an earlier recorded sea level. They comprise a collection of field plots,
generally lacking in conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing
fields of varying shapes and sizes, bounded by rubble walls or banks, often
incorporating edge- or end-set slabs called orthostats.
Some irregular field systems on the Isles of Scilly contain a distinctive
association, rarely encountered elsewhere, whereby certain of their field
boundaries directly incorporate or link cairns, entrance graves and cists in
some groups of prehistoric funerary monuments.
Although no precise figure is available, irregular field systems form a
substantial proportion of the 71 surviving areas of prehistoric field systems
recorded on the Isles of Scilly. They provide significant insights into the
physical and social organisation of past landscapes and they provide
evidence for the wider contemporary context within which other nationally
important monuments were constructed.
The platform cairns and prehistoric field system in this monument on
Wingletang Down have survived well, with only minor damage evident to two of
the cairns due to antiquarian excavation. The close association between these
cairns and the field system is a distinctive feature found elsewhere on the
Isles of Scilly but is unusual and rare nationally. The presence of these
cairns in a dispersed group containing various other classes of cairn shows
the diversity of funerary activity during the Bronze Age. Together with the
other broadly contemporary examples to the west, the prehistoric field system
in this monument indicates the southerly extent of such field systems on this
peninsula. The relationships between these field systems, the cairn group and
the topography on St Agnes demonstrate well the nature of land use among
prehistoric communities and their organisation of funerary and farming
activities.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Other
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7011, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7011.06, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7019, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.02, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.03, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.04, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.05, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.07, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.08, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7011.10, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7019, (1988)
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1014, 1975, consulted 1993
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8807
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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