Ancient Monuments

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Kerbed platform cairn on Menawathan

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

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Latitude: 49.9453 / 49°56'43"N

Longitude: -6.2454 / 6°14'43"W

OS Eastings: 95537.344741

OS Northings: 13658.848262

OS Grid: SV955136

Mapcode National: GBR BXZT.L41

Mapcode Global: VGYBZ.PMPR

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn on Menawathan

Scheduled Date: 14 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010151

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15386

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Martin's

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 kerbed platform cairn situated on the
eastern summit of the small uninhabited rocky island of Menawathan, one of the
easternmost of the Eastern Isles in the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn survives with a turf-covered circular mound of heaped
rubble, 10m in diameter, rising up to 1.3m to a flattened upper platform, 5m
in diameter. Occasional turf-level slabs of a spaced kerb are visible along
the edge of the platform. At the centre of the mound is a large flat slab
considered to derive from the cairn's central funerary structure. The slab is
level with the mound's upper surface and measures 2m long, north west-
south east, by 1.2m wide.
Although this cairn is now located on a small isolated rocky island, the
physical environment in which it was built was a rocky promontory at the
eastern edge of the single large island that formerly united much of the area
of the present Isles of Scilly archipelago from St Mary's northwards. The
gradual sinking of the land since this cairn was constructed has led to the
fragmentation of that island into the present scatter of large and small
islands and rocks. Broadly contemporary funerary monuments and field systems
of various types are located on other islands in the Eastern Isles group, all
formerly hills on the eastern margin of the pre-submergence island, including
examples on Great Ganilly and the Arthurs, from 1.3km to the west and 915m to
the north west of this monument respectively.

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 Menawathan has survived well, with no visible or
recorded evidence for previous disturbance. The relationships between this
monument, the other varied types of funerary cairn and field system on the
Eastern Isles, and the known submergence of the land since they were built,
illustrate in a dramatic way the major environmental changes that have
affected the setting of some surviving prehistoric monuments since their
construction and show the diversity of funerary practices and the organisation
of land use among prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7136, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Maps; SV 91 SE & SV 91 SW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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