Ancient Monuments

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Platform cairn on Burnt Island

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.896 / 49°53'45"N

Longitude: -6.3543 / 6°21'15"W

OS Eastings: 87402.277

OS Northings: 8630

OS Grid: SV874086

Mapcode National: GBR BXPY.Q7J

Mapcode Global: VGYC3.TW22

Entry Name: Platform cairn on Burnt Island

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016510

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15527

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

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 platform cairn with traces of an internal
funerary structure and incorporating a group of natural outcrops on the north
west of Burnt Island, a small uninhabited island off the north west coast of
St Agnes in the south west of the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn survives with a low `D'-shaped mound 9m in diameter,
reduced to 6.7m east-west by its straight western side. The mound rises
steeply along its edges to a low flattened upper surface 0.3m high. Close to
its western edge, the mound incorporates three small bedrock outcrops, each
weathered to a slender slab-like form with a north-south axis: two rise 1.2m
high and stand side-by-side at the south of the cluster, the third is 1.4m
high and 1m to the north. The northern outcrop and the southern pair each have
a low kerb around their southern ends, comprising closely spaced flat and
edge-set slabs to 0.6m long and 0.25m high. To their west, the cairn's
straight western edge is marked by a kerb of closely spaced small slabs, 0.2m-
0.6m across, generally 0.2m high and many of them edge-set. This western kerb
extends 8.75m NNW from beside the southern pair of outcrops, past the northern
outcrop and beyond, ending on the north at two large slabs which extend
eastwards, one resting on the other: the upper slab is 1.25m long and 0.5m
high; the lower is 0.7m long and 0.4m high. Between the eastern end of these
slabs and the northern outcrop, the tips of further slabs are exposed in the
surface of the turf. The disposition of these features is considered to
indicate a box-like funerary structure called a cist between the northern two
slabs and the northern outcrop. Beyond these features, two slabs of a possible
former kerb are visible on the perimeter of the mound on the north and north

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.

The platform cairn on Burnt Island survives well, with no evidence for
excavation or disturbance, and contains an unusually rich array of visible
features. Its incorporation of small bedrock outcrops shows well the influence
and integration of natural landscape features into prehistoric ritual and
funerary activity, emphasised very clearly in this instance by the kerbing
around the outcrops' southern ends.

Source: Historic England


Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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