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Round cairn with funerary chamber on Buzza Hill, 45m west of the Buzza Tower, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9134 / 49°54'48"N

Longitude: -6.3114 / 6°18'41"W

OS Eastings: 90594.230178

OS Northings: 10376.774178

OS Grid: SV905103

Mapcode National: GBR BXSX.CW3

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.KF8R

Entry Name: Round cairn with funerary chamber on Buzza Hill, 45m west of the Buzza Tower, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 20 December 1960

Last Amended: 13 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010174

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15384

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Mary's

Built-Up Area: Hugh town

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a large prehistoric round cairn with a central funerary
chamber situated on the western crest of Buzza Hill, overlooking Porth Cressa
Bay and the isthmus to the Garrison, on south western St Mary's in the Isles
of Scilly.

The round cairn survives with circular, steep-sided mound of heaped rubble,
13.2m in diameter, situated across the western crest of the hill such that it
rises up to 2.5m high on its west side and up to 0.5m high on the east. The
funerary structure is visible near the centre of the mound's upper surface and
survives as a rectangular chamber whose interior measures 2.4m long,
north east-south west, by 1.5m wide and 0.9m deep. The chamber's sides are
defined by a combination of edge-set slabs and coursed slab-built walling,
whose upper edges are level with the upper surface of the mound. Each end of
the chamber is closed by a single large edge-set slab, that at the north east
end rising above the level of the other chamber sides to a height of 1.1m from
the floor of the chamber.

The south west end of the chamber interior is covered by a large slab, called
a capstone, rising proud of the mound's surface and resting on the side
walling and end-stone. The capstone measures 2m long, across the chamber, by
1.3m wide and 0.5m thick.

This monument is one of a group of three recorded chambered cairns located on
top of the prominent ridge forming Buzza Hill. The other two, of a type called
entrance graves and located on the crown of the ridge, 45m to the east and 50m
to the ENE, were the subject of the earliest recorded excavations at such
cairns in 1752 by the antiquary Borlase, but both cairns have subsequently
been destroyed as visible monuments by stone robbing and by the early 19th
century construction of the Buzza Tower, formerly a windmill, believed to
occupy the site of one of the cairns. A fourth funerary cairn, formerly
visible from this monument until modern buildings intervened, survives on the
northern end of the Peninnis Head ridge, 240m to the ESE. Prehistoric
settlement sites are exposed in the cliff face on the eastern side of
Porth Cressa Bay, from 180m to the SSE. Another, dispersed, cairn group is
located on the southern end of Peninnis Head, with further prehistoric field
systems around the flanks of the Head, from 950m to the south east.

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 Buzza Hill has survived well. Its large mound remains
intact and its large walled and slab-built closed funerary chamber is unusual.
The recorded presence of this cairn as part of a cairn group on this hill and
its relationships with the settlement sites on the coast of Porth Cressa Bay
and the cairns and field systems on the ridge of Peninnis Head combine to
illustrate well the diversity of funerary practices, the organisation of land
use and the relationships between settlement and funerary activity among
prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Arlott, J, Island Camera, (1983)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, The chambered Tombs on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, (1963), 9-18
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7578, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7578.01, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7578.02, (1988)
Saunders, AD, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 598, (1960)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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