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Entrance grave on Salakee Down, 160m north west of Church Porth, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9122 / 49°54'44"N

Longitude: -6.2892 / 6°17'21"W

OS Eastings: 92179.1496

OS Northings: 10159.198822

OS Grid: SV921101

Mapcode National: GBR BXVX.J19

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.XGZM

Entry Name: Entrance grave on Salakee Down, 160m north west of Church Porth, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 10 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011933

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15352

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 entrance grave situated on Salakee Down,
on a slight SSE facing slope near the southern coast of St Mary's in the
Isles of Scilly.
The entrance grave survives with an ovoid mound of heaped rubble measuring 17m
north-south by 15m east-west, rising up to 0.8m high. At the centre of the
mound, the chamber is indicated by a hollow measuring at least 3m north-south
by 1.5m east-west and 0.7m deep. Although most internal details are obscured
by dense scrub growth, side-slabs lining the chamber are detectable, including
a large slab, measuring 0.8m north-south by 1.5m east-west, defining the
southern end of the chamber's western side. The chamber of this entrance grave
has been subject to some relatively recent stone-robbing which has resulted in
a row of drill-splitting marks along the eastern edge of the chamber's visible
side-slab and a spread of rubble spoil over the adjacent parts of the mound's
southern end.
Beyond this monument, over a dozen surviving broadly contemporary cairns of
various types are arranged as dispersed groups on Salakee Down from 70m to the
south east. A group of broadly contemporary house platforms is located 350m to
the WSW 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.
Entrance graves are funerary and ritual monuments whose construction and use
dates to the later Neolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC).
They were constructed with a roughly circular mound of heaped rubble and
earth, up to 25m in diameter, whose perimeter may be defined by a kerb of
edge-set slabs or, occasionally, coursed stone. The mound contains a
rectangular chamber built of edge-set slabs or coursed rubble walling, or a
combination of both. The chamber was roofed by further slabs, called
capstones, set across the chamber. The chamber was accessible via a gap in the
mound's kerb or outer edge and often extends back beyond the centre of the
mound. The cairn's mound and chamber may incorporate natural boulders and
outcrops. Excavations in entrance graves have revealed cremated human bone and
funerary urns, usually within the chambers but on occasion within the mound.
Unburnt human bone has also been recovered but is only rarely preserved. Some
chambers have also produced ritual deposits of domestic midden debris,
including dark earth typical of the surface soil found within settlements,
animal bone and artefact fragments. Entrance graves may occur as single
monuments or in small or large groups, often being associated with other cairn
types in cemeteries. They may also occur in close proximity to broadly
contemporary field boundaries. The national distribution of entrance graves is
heavily weighted towards the Isles of Scilly which contain 79 of the 93
surviving examples recorded nationally, the remaining 14 being located in
western Cornwall.

This entrance grave on southern Salakee Down has survived substantially
intact, despite the fairly recent attentions of stone robbers. 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)
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; 7540, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7539, (1988)
Herring, P., The Archaeological Heritage of Bodmin Moor, p.47; unpubl draft text consltd. 1994
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9210
Source Date:

Source: Historic England

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