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Kerbed platform cairn 120m south east of Black Carn, Bryher

A Scheduled Monument in Bryher, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9534 / 49°57'12"N

Longitude: -6.3627 / 6°21'45"W

OS Eastings: 87174.197644

OS Northings: 15033.922054

OS Grid: SV871150

Mapcode National: GBR BXPT.0DF

Mapcode Global: VGYBX.NFNM

Entry Name: Kerbed platform cairn 120m south east of Black Carn, Bryher

Scheduled Date: 4 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015544

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15459

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: Bryher

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 kerbed platform cairn situated near Black
Carn on the northern coastal margin of Gweal Hill on western Bryher, in
the north west of the Isles of Scilly.
The cairn survives with a sub-circular mound of heaped rubble and earth, 6m in
diameter, truncated along its NNE side by the coastal cliff. The mound rises
0.2m high on the surface but the exposed cliff section reveals its height of
0.5m above its contemporary ground surface, the surrounding ground level
having subsequently become raised by peaty deposits beneath the present turf.
The exposed mound rubble is generally 0.2m-0.3m across. The mound rises to a
flattened platform 4.5m in diameter whose perimeter is defined by a kerb of
raised slabs variously 0.2m to 0.75m long, 0.1m to 0.3m high and generally
spaced 0.1m to 0.6m apart but with a larger gap on the west. Embedded in the
south west of the platform is a larger slab, 1.2m long and 0.3m high.
Beyond this monument, a group of three broadly contemporary cairns is located
on the summit of Gweal Hill, from 135m to the south, and a prehistoric field
system extends around the western and southern slopes of the hill from 110m to
the south west. These are the subjects of separate schedulings.

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.

This cairn on the northern coast of Gweal Hill survives substantially intact
despite the loss of its NNE edge to coastal erosion, and retains sufficient
area behind the cliff to indicate that surviving remains of this cairn have a
medium to long term future. It shows clear evidence for its original
structural form and has not been excavated. Its low level situation at the
foot of a slope is unusual and its relationship to the cairn group on the
summit of the hill highlights the diversity of prehistoric funerary and ritual
traditions. Its relationship with the broadly contemporary field system around
the slopes of the hill demonstrates the wider manner in which farming and
ritual activity was organised during the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A CAU, Fieldwork in Scilly Autumn 1990, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7686, (1991)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8715
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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