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Kerbed platform cairn 125m north east of Holmbush Carn, Great Ganilly

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

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Latitude: 49.9533 / 49°57'11"N

Longitude: -6.259 / 6°15'32"W

OS Eastings: 94611.160178

OS Northings: 14594.902178

OS Grid: SV946145

Mapcode National: GBR BXXT.5WT

Mapcode Global: VGYBZ.GFHP

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn 125m north east of Holmbush Carn, Great Ganilly

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 13 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010153

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15388

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 with central
funerary cist situated on the north crest of the northern hill of Great
Ganilly, the largest of the Eastern Isles in the Isles of Scilly. This is the
north eastern of two kerbed cairns on this hill.

The platform cairn survives with an ovoid mound of heaped rubble measuring
8.5m east west by 7m north-south overall. The mound is built out from the
crest of the slope to the north west, up to 1m high on that side but only 0.3m
high from the south, rising to the outer rim of a slightly depressed central
platform, measuring 4m east-west by 3.5m north south and generally 0.2m below
the level of the rim. Parts of two slab-built kerbs are visible. The outer
kerb includes occasional, well-spaced large slabs on the east, south west and
north west perimeter of the mound, the largest, 1.9m long, lying along the
north western edge. The inner kerb extends around the southern outer rim of
the central platform and includes a row of almost contiguous slabs, up to 1m
long and 0.5m high, at least two of which are edge-set. At the centre of the
platform is a flat slab whose exposed area measures 1m north west-south east
by 0.6m north east-south west, set flush with the platform surface. From the
size, setting and location of the slab, it is considered to be the covering
stone of a slab-built, box-like funerary structure called a cist.

Although this cairn is located on what is now a fairly small uninhabited
island, the physical environment in which it was originally 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 south west and a
prehistoric field system from 90m to the south.

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 well and has not been
excavated. 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. They also 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, 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)
Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1027, 1975, Cairn 'b'. Consulted 1994
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 SW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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