Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn 25m south west of Vane Hill summit, Tresco

A Scheduled Monument in Tresco, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9556 / 49°57'20"N

Longitude: -6.3366 / 6°20'11"W

OS Eastings: 89058.77758

OS Northings: 15174.490491

OS Grid: SV890151

Mapcode National: GBR BXRS.SD6

Mapcode Global: VGYBY.3CYW

Entry Name: Round cairn 25m south west of Vane Hill summit, Tresco

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1976

Last Amended: 25 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014777

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15428

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 a prehistoric funerary round cairn situated 25m
south west of the summit of Vane Hill, a prominent rounded hill south east of
New Grimsby on central Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. This cairn is located
west of centre in a dispersed group of four cairns spaced around the hill's
The round cairn survives as a shallow-domed circular mound of heaped rubble
and earth, 13m in diameter and rising 1m high. The southern periphery of the
mound incorporates a large exposed slab, 2.9m long, north east-south west, by
0.75m wide and 0.5m high. The upper surface of the slab has a prominent frost-
weathered hollow. Near the centre of the mound is a shallow hollow, 2m long,
east-west, by 0.8m wide and generally 0.2m deep, almost certainly the result
of an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. On the north side of the hollow is a
slab, 1.3m long, 0.5m wide and 0.5m high; a smaller slab, 0.4m long by 0.2m
wide, is visible as a surface exposure on the south west of the hollow. Both
of these slabs are considered to derive from a central slab-built funerary
structure. Beyond this monument, the other three cairns around the summit of
Vane Hill form a curved linear group extending from a small cairn 20m to the
west to two larger cairns from 30m to the north east.

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 Vane Hill has survived well with only limited disturbance
evident from the antiquarian excavation. The incorporation of the large slab
as a prominent feature of this cairn shows well the importance of such natural
entities as elements in prehistoric funerary rites. 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 7373.03, (1988)
Rees, S E, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1010, 1975, cairn 'c'
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8915
Source Date: 1980

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

Source: Historic England

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