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Two platform cairns north east of Vane Hill summit, Tresco

A Scheduled Monument in Tresco, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9559 / 49°57'21"N

Longitude: -6.3361 / 6°20'9"W

OS Eastings: 89097.906898

OS Northings: 15210.89579

OS Grid: SV890152

Mapcode National: GBR BXRS.SP2

Mapcode Global: VGYBY.4C6M

Entry Name: Two platform cairns north east of Vane Hill summit, Tresco

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 25 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013799

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15429

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: Tresco

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes two prehistoric funerary platform cairns situated close
to the north east of the summit of Vane Hill, a prominent rounded hill
south east of New Grimsby on central Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. These
cairns form the north east part of a dispersed group of four cairns spaced
around the hill's summit. The southern cairn in this monument contains the
largely dismantled remains of a post-medieval coastguard lookout.
The two platform cairns in this monument are spaced 12m apart on a north-south
axis. The northern cairn survives as a circular mound of heaped rubble and
earth, 14.5m in diameter, with fairly steep sides rising 1.2m high to a
flattened upper platform 8m in diameter. The platform surface contains some
irregularities, many due to rabbit burrowing, but the eastern side contains a
larger hollow, 5.5m long, north-south, by 2.5m wide and up to 0.4m deep,
considered to be the result of relatively recent stone robbing.
The southern cairn in the monument also survives with a circular mound of
heaped rubble and earth, 13m in diameter and up to 1.7m high, rising to a
small flattened platform, 5m in diameter. The northern and south eastern sides
of the mound contain several hollows resulting from relatively recent stone
One hollow, up to 0.7m deep, in the south west edge of the cairn corresponds
with the northern corner of a post-medieval coastguard lookout whose
dismantled walls are visible as slight grassy banks, generally 0.9m wide and
0.3m high, delineating an internal area 3m square, its sides facing north
west-south east and north east-south west. The south east side appears to have
been left open. Some irregular stone slabs from the walls' facing are visible
in the vicinity.
Also visible immediately north west of the lookout's remains is the debris of
a much more recent and mostly demolished structure; one corner of this
structure's north and east walls, built of mortared concrete blocks, survives
in situ on the lower south west slope of the cairn.
Beyond this monument, the other two cairns near the summit of Vane Hill form
an east-west pair from 30m to the south west.

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.

These platform cairns on Vane Hill have survived substantially intact despite
some evidence for stone robbing and the slight impingement of the later
structures on the southern cairn's south west edge. The prominence of the hill
chosen for this monument's location, and for the other members of this
discrete cairn group around the hill's summit, demonstrates the influence
of topography on the physical organisation of funerary and ritual activities
among prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7373, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7373.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7373.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7377, (1988)
Rees, S E, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1010, 1975, cairn 'a'
Rees, S E, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1010, 1975, cairn 'b'
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715
Source Date: 1980

Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8915
Source Date: 1980

Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map: SV 81 NE
Source Date: 1963

Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map; SV 81 NE
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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