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Kerbed platform cairn 60m NNE of Holmbush Carn, Great Ganilly

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

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Latitude: 49.9528 / 49°57'10"N

Longitude: -6.2597 / 6°15'34"W

OS Eastings: 94555.721822

OS Northings: 14551.637822

OS Grid: SV945145

Mapcode National: GBR BXXT.5K1

Mapcode Global: VGYBZ.GG30

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn 60m NNE of Holmbush Carn, Great Ganilly

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 13 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010152

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15387

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
highest point of the northern hill of Great Ganilly, the largest of the
Eastern Isles in the Isles of Scilly. This is the south western of two kerbed
cairns on this hill. A small modern rubble pillar supporting a wooden cross
forms a landmark feature built onto the western side of this cairn's platform.
The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 9m in
diameter, rising up to 0.75m high from the north and 0.4m high from the south
to a flattened upper platform, 5m in diameter. The north and west sides of the
platform's perimeter are marked by a kerb of spaced slabs, the largest being
edge-set on the northern edge and measuring up to 1m long and 0.6m high. Two
further slabs, up to 1.5m long by 1m wide, lie on the mound's north eastern
slope and are considered to have been displaced from the kerb or a central
funerary structure. The centre of the platform contains a hollow measuring 3m
east-west by 2m north-south and 0.25m deep. The hollow results from recent
stone robbing to produce the modern landmark pillar built on the western edge
of the hollow. The base of the hollow beside the northern edge of the modern
pillar has partly exposed two adjacent long slabs, laid side by side on a
north south axis; the slabs extend beneath the edge of the modern pillar and
are considered to be exposed parts of the cairn's internal funerary structure.

The prominent location of this cairn has resulted in the siting of a modern
landmark pillar on the western side of its platform. The pillar measures 1.5m
east-west by 1.3m north-south at its base and tapers to the top, rising 1m
high. It is built of roughly piled rubble and supports an improvised wooden
cross, 1m high and 1.2m across the arms, made from two slender slats tied
together and wedged into the pillar below. This cross is known to have been
replaced on several occasions due to its fragility in such an exposed

Although this cairn is located on what is now a fairly small uninhabited
island, the physical environment in which it was built was a rocky ridge
towards 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 cairns 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.
Near this kerbed cairn, on the same northern hill of Great Ganilly, these
other monuments include another kerbed cairn 65m to the north east and a
prehistoric field system from 60m to the south east.

The modern wooden cross is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath
it 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 kerbed platform cairn on Great Ganilly has survived substantially intact,
despite the limited stone robbing for the modern landmark. The hollow from
that robbing has revealed traces of an internal funerary structure with little
evident 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
Grigson, G, The Scilly Isles, (1977)
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, Ratcliffe, J., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7210, (1988)
consulted 1994, Ratcliffe, J., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7210.01, (1988)
consulted 1994, Ratcliffe, J., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7210.03, (1988)
consulted 1994, Ratcliffe, J., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7211, (1988)
Information told to fieldworker by Mr Steve Walder, St Martin's, (1993)
Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1027, 1975, Cairn 'a'. Consulted 1994
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 SW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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