Ancient Monuments

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Kerbed round cairn with central cist on Gun Hill, St Martin's

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

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Latitude: 49.9599 / 49°57'35"N

Longitude: -6.2694 / 6°16'9"W

OS Eastings: 93906.187244

OS Northings: 15377.777895

OS Grid: SV939153

Mapcode National: GBR BXXS.F42

Mapcode Global: VGYBZ.88ZK

Entry Name: Kerbed round cairn with central cist on Gun Hill, St Martin's

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 4 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013809

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15422

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 round cairn with a peripheral kerb and
central cist situated near the summit of Gun Hill, a small hillock on the
south coast of eastern St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly.
The round cairn survives with a sub-circular mound of heaped earth and rubble,
up to 13m in diameter and 1.5m high, located a little north east of the summit
of Gun Hill. On the upper slope of the mound is a kerb of at least six
irregularly-spaced slabs, edge-set or laid and measuring up to 1.2m long, 0.5m
wide and 0.6m high, defining a central area, 6m in diameter. Within that area
on top of the mound, is a box-like funerary structure called a cist. The cist
is visible as a sub-rectangular arrangement of five slabs; the southern slab,
formerly edge-set, has clearly fallen outwards and the north east corner shows
evidence for some disruption, but the surviving remains define an interior
measuring 1.1m east-west and tapering from 1.1m wide at the east end to 0.9m
wide at the west. Within the cist interior is a large upright slab, 0.95m high
and 0.6m by 0.4m across, considered to be a relatively recent addition to the
prehistoric cairn, possibly to create a distinctive and highly visible feature
called a daymark to aid navigation.
Beyond this monument, a broadly contemporary funerary cairn is visible on John
Batty's Hill, 185m to the north west, incorporated within an extensive
prehistoric field system that extends to within 40m north of this monument.
Broadly contemporary settlement sites are known at English Island Carn, 170m
to the south west, and prehistoric settlement, funerary and ritual monuments,
some now in the inter-tidal zone, are recorded from Higher Town Bay to the

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 round cairn on Gun Hill has survived substantially intact, despite some
evidence for minor disruption to the cist and the relatively recent addition
of the central upright slab. The prominence of this monument's original
context demonstrates the important role played by landscape features in the
beliefs and perception of prehistoric communities. The wider organisation of
prehistoric land use and the later profound changes in landscape context are
illustrated by the monument's relationship with the other surviving
prehistoric funerary, settlement and ritual sites in the vicinity, including
those in the inter-tidal zone of Higher Town Bay.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Rees, S E, AM 7 scheduling documentation for CO 993, 1975,
Rees, S E, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 993, 1975,
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7144, (1988)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7145, (1988)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7146, (1988)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7146, (1988)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7147-9; 7302-3; 7660, (1988)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7152; 7636, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715
Source Date: 1980

Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9315
Source Date: 1980

Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map, SV 91 NW
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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