Ancient Monuments

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Kerbed platform cairn with central funerary chamber on Salakee Down, 10m west of Church Porth, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9111 / 49°54'39"N

Longitude: -6.2877 / 6°17'15"W

OS Eastings: 92284.311178

OS Northings: 10023.84133

OS Grid: SV922100

Mapcode National: GBR BXVX.JRS

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.YHTJ

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn with central funerary chamber on Salakee Down, 10m west of Church Porth, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 4 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011929

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15348

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Mary's

Built-Up Area: St Mary's Airport

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 a central
chamber situated on the southern edge of Salakee Down, at the foot of a slope
now forming the coastal margin beside Church Porth on the southern coast of St
Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn survives with a turf-covered sub-circular mound of heaped
rubble measuring 8m NW-SE by 7m NE-SW, rising up to 0.7m high on the east side
and 0.2m high on the west. The mound rises asymmetrically to a platform 4m in
diameter, centred west of the mound's centre. Three small spaced kerb stones
are visible in the western sector of the platform edge, one of them level with
the surface, the other two measuring 0.3m and 0.25m high respectively.
The platform's central area contains a large rounded hollow resulting from an
unrecorded antiquarian excavation. The hollow measures 3m SW-NE by 2.75m NW-SE
and is up to 0.7m deep. From the base of the hollow, a narrow trench extends
the antiquarian excavation a further 0.5m deep and measures 2.2m east-west by
up to 0.5m wide. The southern side of this trench exposes the northern edges
of two large flat slabs considered to form the upper slabs, called capstones,
of a funerary chamber. The slabs adjoin on an east-west axis such that their
northern edges are in line, but the eastern slab has sunk deeper in the mound
than the western. The exposed parts of the western slab measure 1.25m
east-west by 0.75m wide and 0.3m thick, its upper surface 0.5m below the
platform edge, while visible parts of the eastern slab measure 0.85m east-west
by 0.5m wide and 0.3m thick, its upper surface 0.7m deep.
Beyond this monument, over a dozen surviving broadly contemporary cairns of
various types are arranged as dispersed groups on Salakee Down from 40m to the
WSW. A group of broadly contemporary house platforms is located 440m to the
west on the coastal margin below the southern slope of the Down.

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 near Church Porth has survived reasonably well
despite the effects of the unrecorded excavation. That excavation has revealed
the unusual presence of a funerary chamber, substantially intact, deep within
this cairn. Its proximity to the other broadly contemporary and differing
cairns on Salakee Down and to the house platforms on the coastal slope of the
Down demonstrate the organisation of land use, the relationship between burial
activity and settlement, and the diversity of funerary monuments during the
Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7557, (1988)
consulted 1994, CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7531; 7534; 7537; 7539; 7540, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7540.08, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9210
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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