Ancient Monuments

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Platform cairn on Turfy Hill, St Martin's

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

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Latitude: 49.9651 / 49°57'54"N

Longitude: -6.2815 / 6°16'53"W

OS Eastings: 93071.999796

OS Northings: 16002.338882

OS Grid: SV930160

Mapcode National: GBR BXWS.1L4

Mapcode Global: VGYBZ.24LL

Entry Name: Platform cairn on Turfy Hill, St Martin's

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018114

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15522

County: Isles of Scilly

Civil Parish: St. Martin's

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Isles of Scilly

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a large prehistoric funerary cairn situated on the
summit of Turfy Hill, a rounded headland on the north coast of St Martin's in
the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn is visible as a circular mound 16.5m in diameter, rising 1m
to a well-defined upper platform 10m in diameter. On the WSW edge of the
platform is an upright slab 0.75m high. The platform surface is generally
flattened with several shallow hollows resulting from unrecorded antiquarian
This platform cairn is one of several prehistoric cairns which, beyond this
scheduling, occupy high points along St Martin's culminating in larger cairn
cemeteries on the downland at each end of the island.

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 large platform cairn on Turfy Hill survives substantially intact and
despite some limited antiquarian activity its form remains clear and
well-defined. Its siting on the headland summit and its relationship with the
other similarly sited funerary cairns along the island demonstrate well the
important influence of landforms in the organisation of prehistoric funerary
and ritual activity.

Source: Historic England


Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7128, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map SV 9315 and 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SV 91 NW
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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