Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn 55m west of Stoney Porth, White Island

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

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Latitude: 49.9786 / 49°58'43"N

Longitude: -6.2919 / 6°17'30"W

OS Eastings: 92414.205822

OS Northings: 17549.17442

OS Grid: SV924175

Mapcode National: GBR BXVQ.WB8

Mapcode Global: VGYBR.WSLR

Entry Name: Round cairn 55m west of Stoney Porth, White Island

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 20 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010157

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15392

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 round cairn situated on a gentle southerly
slope, north west of the narrow neck of land across the centre of White
Island, off St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly. This cairn is on the
south east edge of a group containing at least nine prehistoric cairns of
various types dispersed over the northern half of White Island.
The round cairn survives with a turf-covered ovoid mound of heaped rubble
measuring 7.5m east-west by 6m north-south, rising 0.5m high over its domed
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 65m to the north and
85m to the north east and to the west, while prehistoric field systems are
located from 70m to the south east on the central and southern parts of the
island, extending onto the upper shore of Porth Morran as a result of the

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.
Round cairns are funerary monuments of Bronze Age date (c.2000-700 BC). They
were constructed as mounds of earth and stone rubble, up to 40m in external
diameter, though usually considerably smaller, covering single or multiple
burials. A kerb of edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edge of the mound.
Burials were placed in small pits, or on occasion within a box-like structure
of stone slabs called a cist, set into the old ground surface or dug into the
body of the cairn. Round cairns can occur as isolated monuments, in small
groups or in larger cemeteries.
Round cairns form a high proportion of the 387 surviving cairns recorded on
the Isles of Scilly. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a
monument type provides important information on the diversity of beliefs,
burial practices and social organisation in the Bronze Age and a substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

This round cairn on White Island has survived well and has not been excavated.
The relationship 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 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)
Thomas, A C, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Recent Fieldwork in the Isles of Scilly, , Vol. 14, (1975), 87-94
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7097.06, (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)
Rees, S.E., AM 7 scheduling documentation for CO 998, 1975, Cairn 'b'. Consulted 1994
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 NW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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