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Prehistoric entrance grave, the middle one of three on Cruther's Hill, St Martin's

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

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Latitude: 49.9576 / 49°57'27"N

Longitude: -6.283 / 6°16'58"W

OS Eastings: 92912.617049

OS Northings: 15177.914515

OS Grid: SV929151

Mapcode National: GBR BXWS.LW2

Mapcode Global: VGYBZ.1BRB

Entry Name: Prehistoric entrance grave, the middle one of three on Cruther's Hill, St Martin's

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 25 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013804

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15417

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Martin'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 near the centre of
the summit ridge of Cruther's Hill, on the south coast of St Martin's in the
Isles of Scilly.

The entrance grave survives with a circular mound of heaped earth and rubble,
14.5m in diameter and up to 2m high, on a natural knoll near the centre of the
hill's narrow summit ridge. The mound rises gently over its peripheral
2m-2.5m, then adopts a much steeper gradient, rising to a shallow-domed upper
platform defined by a slab-built kerb 7.5m-8m in external diameter. The kerb
includes near contiguous large slabs, up to 1.5m long and 1.4m high, mostly
edge-set and extending down part of the mound's upper slope. The kerb also
incorporates occasional bedrock outcrops from the underlying knoll.

Within the mound is a large, slab-built, rectangular funerary chamber
orientated WSW-ENE. The chamber measures 4.5m long, up to 1.1m wide and up to
1.1m deep, with its entrance at the ENE side accompanied by a break in the
kerb line. Its walls combine both edge-set and coursed slabs, with individual
slabs up to 1.9m long and 1.1m high. A small outcrop of bedrock is visible in
the south west edge of the floor. The chamber is unroofed, its former covering
slabs having been robbed for other purposes.

This entrance grave is one of a linear group of four broadly contemporary
funerary monuments dispersed along 130m of the summit ridge of Cruther's Hill.
This is a highly prominent cairn group which is visible over considerable
distances to the east and west. Beyond the group, a further funerary cairn is
located 170m NNW of this monument, in the saddle between Cruther's Hill and
Higher Town. Small prehistoric box-like funerary chambers, called cists, are
known from now submerged locations overlooked by Cruther's Hill to both east
and west, while those cists to the east are also accompanied by broadly
contemporary settlement sites on the sloping beach of Higher Town Bay.

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 Cruthers Hill has survived well, forming a very good
example of the monument class, with only limited disturbance evident from the
removal of the funerary chamber's covering slabs. The prominent siting of this
monument demonstrates the important role played by landscape features in the
beliefs and perception of prehistoric communities, a point reinforced by the
monument's proximity to other prehistoric funerary monuments along the summit
ridge of Cruther's Hill. The wider organisation of prehistoric land use and
the later profound changes in landscape context are illustrated by the
monument's relationship with the prehistoric cists and settlement sites in the
inter-tidal zone to the east and west of Cruther's Hill.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Arlott, J, Island Camera, (1983)
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1756)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7170, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7172, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7172.02, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7147, 7302-3, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7148 & 7178, (1988)
Rees, S, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 992, 1975,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9215
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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