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Two round cairns 85m east of Dutchman's Carn, Peninnis Head, St Mary's

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

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Latitude: 49.9056 / 49°54'20"N

Longitude: -6.3048 / 6°18'17"W

OS Eastings: 91019.303802

OS Northings: 9483.335962

OS Grid: SV910094

Mapcode National: GBR BXTX.WDP

Mapcode Global: VGYC4.NMRR

Entry Name: Two round cairns 85m east of Dutchman's Carn, Peninnis Head, St Mary's

Scheduled Date: 28 May 1980

Last Amended: 23 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015016

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15306

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 two prehistoric round cairns situated on the crest of
the south west flank of Peninnis Head, the southern extremity of St Mary's, in
the Isles of Scilly.
The cairns are situated 5m apart on a WSW-ENE axis. The ENE cairn survives
with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 13m in diameter and 1.1m high. Two
large groundfast slabs, up to 1.8m long, are incorporated in the surface of
the mound's upper slope on its southern side and a bedrock outcrop, 2m long by
1.2m wide, is incorporated into the mound's western periphery. An unrecorded
antiquarian excavation in the mound's south western upper slope has produced a
hollow measuring 2m NW-SE by 1.5m NE-SW and 0.5m deep, exposing three large
slabs up to 0.8m long in its north east side. Slight stone robbing hollows of
irregular shape and up to 0.15m deep are visible in the south eastern surface
of the mound.
The WSW cairn survives with a sub-circular mound, up to 10m in diameter and
0.75m high. Stone robbing has produced hollows up to 2m wide and 0.3m deep in
the northern and eastern sides of the mound and another hollow, 1.5m in
diameter and 0.2m deep at its centre. Similar robbing across the southern
periphery of the mound has exposed two large slabs, up to 2m long, on its
These cairns form the south west part of a dispersed group of five cairns
situated on the upper western and southern slopes of Peninnis Head. This cairn
group is located near a broadly contemporary prehistoric field system which
extends along the middle and lower slopes on the southern and eastern flanks
of the head.

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.

These round cairns on Peninnis Head have survived reasonably well. The
antiquarian excavation has caused only minor disturbance to the ENE cairn,
which has also suffered little from the stone robbing. The more evident
activity of stone robbers affecting the neighbouring cairn to the WSW still
leaves the mound substantially intact. The proximity of this monument to the
broadly contemporary field systems along the lower slopes of Peninnis Head
demonstrates well the organisation of land use and the relationship between
funerary and farming activities among prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 relating to Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7419, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 relating to Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7420, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 relating to Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7420.02, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A., AM 107 relating to Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7420.03, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 90 NW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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