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Round cairn 155m NNE of Water Rocks, Normandy Down, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9218 / 49°55'18"N

Longitude: -6.2785 / 6°16'42"W

OS Eastings: 93012.98825

OS Northings: 11172.616179

OS Grid: SV930111

Mapcode National: GBR BXWW.NYZ

Mapcode Global: VGYC5.475B

Entry Name: Round cairn 155m NNE of Water Rocks, Normandy Down, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 16 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011939

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15370

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Mary'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 large prehistoric round cairn with a central funerary
chamber situated near the centre of Normandy Down, on eastern St Mary's in the
Isles of Scilly.
The round cairn is the second largest prehistoric funerary cairn on the Isles
of Scilly. It survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 22m in diameter
and rising up to 2.2m high. The internal structures of this cairn have been
partly revealed by two episodes of unrecorded antiquarian excavation. The
earlier episode produced a central hollow, 4m in diameter and 0.9m deep,
in the top of the mound. The edges of this hollow include a raised lip
containing debris from the excavation. This lip is 3m wide and rises up to 1m
above the profile of the mound's slope beyond. A broad gap in the
north eastern sector of the lip is considered to mark the line of entry of
this early excavation.
Exposed in the base of the early excavation hollow are two edge-set slabs,
1.7m apart on a north-south axis, marking opposite sides of a central funerary
chamber. Each slab has an east-west long axis, the northern slab standing 0.9m
high, 0.9m long and 0.2m wide. The upper edge of the southern slab is flush
with the base of the hollow and is 1.5m long and 0.2m wide. A further smaller
slab, 0.1m high, from the western side of the chamber is exposed immediately
south west of the northern slab.
The second antiquarian excavation episode is evident as an east-west trench,
0.75m wide, cutting through the western slope of the mound and its lip of
excavation debris. The trench then crosses the base of the earlier hollow, its
southern side exposing the northern face of the southern edge-set slab. The
trench finally ends at the eastern side of the earlier hollow. In the base of
that hollow, the trench extends a further 0.5m deep. Apart from revealing the
height of the southern slab, the faces of at least three more slabs are
exposed in the northern side of the trench.
Another hollow in the south west periphery of the mound, 3m wide and extending
2m up the mound's slope, is the result of small-scale robbing of the cairn's
rubble content.
This monument is located east of centre in a linear cairn cemetery containing
three other cairns dispersed across the plateau of Normandy Down. The other
cairns in this cemetery vary in form and include one entrance grave while the
two others also contain large funerary chambers. A broadly contemporary field
system extends south from Water Rocks Down, from 150m south west of this
monument. Other prehistoric cairn cemeteries are located to the south on the
successive coastal downs of Porth Hellick Down and Salakee Down.
The surface of the modern metalled track passing immediately SSE of the cairn
is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

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 large round cairn on Normandy Down has survived reasonably well as an
example at the upper end of the size range of this class of monument, despite
the attentions of antiquaries and stone robbers. The antiquarian excavations
have confirmed the presence of otherwise hidden internal funerary structures.
The presence of this monument within a cemetery containing various cairn
types, its proximity to a prehistoric field system on Water Rocks Down, and
the disposition of this and other cairn cemeteries on successive downs along
the coast are all factors combining to illustrate well the diversity of
funerary practices and the organisation of land use during the Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
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)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7236.02, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7527, (1988)
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1018, 1975, consulted 1994
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 9211 & 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 91 SW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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