Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric round cairn 255m south west of Blockhouse Cottages, Tresco

A Scheduled Monument in Tresco, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.9564 / 49°57'23"N

Longitude: -6.3315 / 6°19'53"W

OS Eastings: 89432.822213

OS Northings: 15247.509267

OS Grid: SV894152

Mapcode National: GBR BXRS.W41

Mapcode Global: VGYBY.6CN7

Entry Name: Prehistoric round cairn 255m south west of Blockhouse Cottages, Tresco

Scheduled Date: 25 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016187

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15511

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 scheduling includes a prehistoric funerary round cairn situated 255m south
west of Blockhouse Cottages on central Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. The
cairn is visible as a circular mound 14m in diameter with a shallow-domed
surface rising 0.75m high. On the south east and SSE of the mound, and 2.5m
within its perimeter, are two large slabs up to 0.7m long and 0.25m high,
considered to derive from a peripheral kerb. The cairn is close to the east of
a small natural outcrop on the northern crest of the Middle Down plateau, a
location which appears on the skyline from the broadly contemporary settlement
and field system at Dial Rocks to the north west and which, in its
contemporary landscape, would have been inter-visible with prehistoric cairn
groups on Vane Hill to the west and Castle Down to the north west.
The modern aerial, its wiring, guys and their anchoring posts are excluded
from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

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 255m south west of Blockhouse Cottages has survived well,
with no evident or recorded excavation. Its situation close to an outcrop and
on the plateau edge shows well the importance of natural landforms in the
physical organisation of prehistoric funerary and ritual activity. From that
situation its inter-visible relationship with the other broadly contemporary
settlement and funerary sites that survive in this part of the island
demonstrates its setting in the wider prehistoric organisation of the

Source: Historic England


Parkes, C & Herring, P, Scilly SMR entry PRN 7671, (1990)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8915
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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