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Entrance grave 135m 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: -6.279 / 6°16'44"W

OS Eastings: 92972.892523

OS Northings: 11181.679422

OS Grid: SV929111

Mapcode National: GBR BXWW.NQ8

Mapcode Global: VGYC5.37W8

Entry Name: Entrance grave 135m NNE of Water Rocks, Normandy Down, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 16 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011952

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15369

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 prehistoric entrance grave situated on the western
side of Normandy Down, on eastern St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.
The entrance grave survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 15m in
diameter, rising up to 1.3m high to a platform slightly north east of the
mound centre and 6.25m in diameter. The edge of the platform is defined over
the south east quadrant and at the NNE sector by a kerb of edge-set slabs, up
to 0.3m high, with the largest individual kerb slab, at the east, measuring 1m
long, 0.5m wide and 0.1m high.

The platform is bisected by a slab-built funerary chamber measuring 6.3m along
its east-west long axis, by up to 1.5m wide and 0.7m deep. The chamber sides
are formed by large edge-set slabs rising to a common level along the
chamber's upper edges. The chamber's end slabs have not survived, though the
largest slab in the platform's kerb rises immediately behind the eastern end
of the chamber. The chamber is spanned transversely by a massive slab, called
a capstone, situated towards the chamber's eastern end and measuring 1.9m
long, north-south, by 0.9m wide and 0.4m thick. The upper surface of the
capstone bears two drilled holes, 0.4m apart and each 3cm diameter and 3cm
deep, resulting from an unsuccessful 19th-20th century attempt to remove this
slab. A second large capstone, 1.2m long, has subsided into the chamber near
its western end. The interior of the chamber has been subject to an unrecorded
antiquarian excavation, whose trench passed along the chamber, entering from
the west and ending at the kerb slab to the east. The approach-line of the
trench is visible as a hollow, 1.5m wide and 0.1m deep across the mound's
western slope, dropping sharply where it meets the chamber. This excavation is
considered to be responsible for the absence of the chamber's end slabs and
those capstones that formerly filled the gaps between the surviving pair.
This monument is located west 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 contain large funerary chambers. A
broadly contemporary field system extends south from Water Rocks Down, from
120m south west of this monument, while other prehistoric cairn cemeteries are
located to the south on the successive coastal downs of Porth Hellick Down and
Salakee 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 Normandy Down has survived substantially intact.
Despite the effects of the antiquarian excavation, it retains clearly its main
component features and the form of the large funerary chamber, while the
fabric of the mound has barely been disturbed. 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 the 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)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7236.01, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7527, (1988)
Herring, P., The Archaeological Heritage of Bodmin Moor, p.47; unpubl draft text consltd. 1994
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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