Ancient Monuments

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Platform cairn on northern Peninnis Head, 200m ESE of Buzza Tower

A Scheduled Monument in St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9127 / 49°54'45"N

Longitude: -6.3083 / 6°18'29"W

OS Eastings: 90816.672372

OS Northings: 10286.3145

OS Grid: SV908102

Mapcode National: GBR BXTX.F9W

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.LGY9

Entry Name: Platform cairn on northern Peninnis Head, 200m ESE of Buzza Tower

Scheduled Date: 4 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009284

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15345

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Mary's

Built-Up Area: Hugh town

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a prehistoric platform cairn situated on the summit of
the northern end of the broad ridge forming Peninnis Head, in the south west
of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn survives with a turf-covered circular mound of heaped
rubble, 10m in diameter, straddling a slight crest on the spine of the ridge
such that the mound is 0.6m high from the south west side and 0.3m from the
north east, rising to a flattened upper surface 4m in diameter. A row of three
large slabs, each 1m-1.2m long and 0.5m wide, considered to derive from an
unrecorded antiquarian excavation at the cairn, lie parallel to each other
embedded in the turf from 1m beyond the western perimeter of the cairn, with a
further slab partly exposed to their south.
A modern electricity cable trench is visible as a slight, turf-covered linear
hollow, 0.5m wide and 0.03m deep, running north-south across the eastern
perimeter of the cairn.
Beyond this monument, further broadly contemporary cairns are located on the
crest of the ridge from 750m to the SSE at the southern end of Peninnis Head,
with prehistoric field systems fringing the lower slopes. Two broadly
contemporary chambered cairns, of which one still survives, occupied the
summit of Buzza Hill, 200m to the WNW, the north westward extension of
the ridge containing this monument. Until modern development, these cairns
were intervisible with this monument.
The electricity cable and its service trench are excluded from the scheduling
but the ground beneath is included.

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'
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 edge 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.
Platform cairns form a significant proportion of the 387 surviving cairns on
the Isles of Scilly; this is unusual in comparison with the mainland. All
surviving examples on the Isles of Scilly are considered worthy of protection.

This platform cairn on northern Peninnis Head has survived substantially
intact with only minor disturbance evident from an antiquarian excavation and
the modern cable trench. The prominent location of this cairn and its
relationship with the other broadly contemporary cairns and field systems on
and around Peninnis Head demonstrates well the nature of funerary activity and
the organisation of land use during the Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7419, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7420, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7578, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7583, (1988)
Information from Mr K.S. Williams, 3/12/93,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps, SV 9009-9010, SV 9109-9110
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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