Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric kerbed boulder 172m north west of Horse Point, St Agnes

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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Latitude: 49.8839 / 49°53'2"N

Longitude: -6.3426 / 6°20'33"W

OS Eastings: 88169.241

OS Northings: 7232.277

OS Grid: SV881072

Mapcode National: GBR BXQZ.PMJ

Mapcode Global: VGYCB.05ST

Entry Name: Prehistoric kerbed boulder 172m north west of Horse Point, St Agnes

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016511

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15528

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 kerbed boulder, a form of early ritual
monument highlighting a natural boulder, situated on the western coastal shelf
of the southernmost headland of St Agnes in the south west of the Isles of
The kerbed boulder has a large natural slab as its focus, subtriangular in
plan with a flattened upper surface up to 3m across. The slab rises to 0.5m
high at its north west edge, tilts down to the south east and is encircled by
a ring of smaller spaced slabs. Three of these are edge-set, standing from
0.25m-0.4m from the central slab's edge: two on the south, to 0.7m long and
0.25m high, and one on the NNE, 0.5m long and 0.2m high. Four other slabs,
0.6m-1m across, lie flat on the east, north and north west and are considered
to have fallen outwards. Another edge-set slab, 0.75m long and 0.25m high,
forms a small outlier whose long axis is aligned towards the monument's focal
slab 3m to the SSW.
This is one of at least two kerbed boulders on St Agnes; it is also located
within the area of a large prehistoric cairn cemetery which encompasses much
of Wingletang Down, the island's unenclosed southern heathland. Many of the
cemetery's cairns also incorporate natural boulders and outcrops as a
deliberate feature, including the nearest cairn centred only 12m to the south.

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.

Kerbed boulders are one of a diverse range of ritual monuments dating to the
Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.2500-1500 BC). They were constructed
with a kerb of small upright slabs surrounding a natural ground-fast boulder;
the kerb slabs may either touch to form a continuous row or may be spaced
apart. An outlying upright slab is known in at least two examples. Kerbed
boulders are a relatively recently recognised class of prehistoric monument
which combine elements present in other types of contemporary ritual and
funerary monument. The emphasis placed on natural features, with an implied
reverence for them, is clearly evident on a larger scale in south west England
in prehistoric tor cairns and the choice of distinctive hills for the siting
of neolithic hilltop enclosures. The use of a ring of upright slabs as a
visible means of indicating reverence or a sacred area occurs widely in
prehistoric contexts, notably in the form of stone circles and the prominent
kerbs and stone settings around many funerary cairns. Under a dozen kerbed
boulders are currently known nationally, from Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and the
Isles of Scilly, but this number is expected to rise as modern perception of
them increases. As a very rare monument type providing valuable insights into
the ordering of the landscape within prehistoric belief systems, all surviving
examples are considered worthy of protection.
This kerbed boulder 172m north west of Horse Point survives well despite the
fall of several of its encircling slabs and it shows no evidence for ground
disturbance. Its form and context provide a good example of the essentially
local ritual significance that most kerbed boulders imply, its focal slab not
especially distinguished within the surrounding terrain by its physical
characteristics other than by the presence of the artificial kerbing. Its
presence within the area of the prehistoric cairn cemetery on Wingletang Down
and its proximity to one of those cairns which includes a natural outcrop as
an integral feature emphasise the lack of any meaningful separation between
ritual and funerary activities among prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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