Ancient Monuments

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Kerbed platform cairn on Salakee Down, 55m west of Church Porth, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.911 / 49°54'39"N

Longitude: -6.2883 / 6°17'17"W

OS Eastings: 92237.9474

OS Northings: 10022.71033

OS Grid: SV922100

Mapcode National: GBR BXVX.JH0

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.YHHK

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn on Salakee Down, 55m west of Church Porth, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 4 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011930

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15349

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 situated near the
southern edge of Salakee Down, on a slight north east facing slope behind
Church Point 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 10m NW-SE by 8.5m NE-SW. The mound rises up to 0.7m high from
the north east side but merges with the natural slope to the south west,
though this is now largely masked by the bank of a runway of St Mary's Airport
which passes immediately south west of this cairn. The mound rises
asymmetrically to a flattened platform measuring 5.5m NW-SE by 4.5m NE-SW,
centred south west of the mound's centre and extending out from the former
natural slope on the south west edge of the mound. Two small spaced kerb
stones, up to 0.7m long and 0.1m high, are visible on the north west perimeter
of the platform edge. An oval hollow measuring 2.2m NW-SE by 1m NE-SW and 0.1m
deep is located near the NNE edge of the platform and is considered to result
from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. In 1990, a limited excavation was
undertaken at this cairn in advance of the extension of the nearby airport
runway. The excavation removed only the turf and topsoil along a strip 1m wide
and 3m long across the north west slope and platform edge, confirming the
artificial nature of the cairn's rubble make-up and the deliberate setting of
one of the kerb-stones on the platform edge.
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
east. A group of broadly contemporary house platforms is located 400m 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 well despite the
minor hollow from the unrecorded antiquarian excavation. The 1990 excavation
did not penetrate the fabric of the cairn and provided confirmation of the
nature of this monument. The proximity of this monument 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)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7557, (1988)
CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7531; 7534; 7537; 7539; 7540, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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