Ancient Monuments

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Kerbed platform cairn 110m north of Porth Morran, White Island

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

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Latitude: 49.979 / 49°58'44"N

Longitude: -6.2931 / 6°17'35"W

OS Eastings: 92328.757098

OS Northings: 17599.995099

OS Grid: SV923175

Mapcode National: GBR BXVQ.VND

Mapcode Global: VGYBR.VSYF

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn 110m north of Porth Morran, White Island

Scheduled Date: 9 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010156

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15391

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
south east slope of the northern hill of White Island, off St Martin's in the
Isles of Scilly. This cairn is located near the centre of a group containing
at least nine prehistoric cairns of various types dispersed over the northern
half of White Island.
The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble measuring
5.5m in diameter, rising to a flattened upper platform measuring 3m in
diameter, levelled on the south easterly slope such that it is 0.5m high from
the south east side and merges with the slope on the north west. The perimeter
of the platform has three well spaced slabs, up to 0.4m high, projecting
from its east, south east and west sides, forming a partial kerb. Although
this cairn is located on what is now a fairly small uninhabited island, linked
to the much larger St Martin's island at low tide, the physical environment in
which it was originally built was a broad rocky promontory on the northern
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. Other broadly contemporary funerary cairns in this
dispersed group on northern White Island are located from 40m to the south and
65m to the south west, while prehistoric field systems are located from 130m
to the south west on the central and southern parts of the island, extending
onto the upper shore of Porth Morran as a result of the submergence.

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 White Island has survived well and has not been
excavated. The relationships between this monument, the other varied types of
funerary cairn and the prehistoric field system on White Island, 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, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7097.08, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7099, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C., AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7096-7, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 NW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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