Reasons for Designation
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.
These four round cairns between Carn Wrean and Carn of Works have survived
well, with no evident or recorded disturbance and they have not been
excavated. The incorporation of large groundfast slabs into the mound of one
of the cairns is a distinctive feature found in certain other cairns on the
Isles of Scilly but unusual and rare nationally. The presence of these cairns
in a group containing various other classes of cairn shows the diversity of
funerary activity during the Bronze Age. The relationships between this and
the other cairn group, the nearby prehistoric field systems and the topography
on this small island, demonstrates well the nature of land use among
prehistoric communities and the organisation of funerary and farming
The monument includes four closely-spaced prehistoric round cairns situated in
a shallow valley between Carn Wrean and Carn of Works on the southern part of
Gugh in the Isles of Scilly.
The cairns are arranged as a SSW-NNE linear group of three extending over
22.5m, with the fourth cairn located 1m ESE of the group's northern cairn. All
of the cairns survive with circular, heather-covered mounds of heaped rubble.
The southern cairn of the linear group has a mound 9m in diameter and 0.7m
high. A single slab, 0.7m long and 0.3m high, from a peripheral kerb is
visible on the western side of the cairn. The central cairn in the group has a
mound 5m in diameter and 0.3m high; this mound also has a turf-level exposed
slab, 1.3m long, on its south east edge. The northern cairn in this group has
a mound 6m in diameter and 0.5m high, incorporating two large groundfast
slabs. One slab is located on the south eastern side and measures 1.9m long by
0.75m wide; the other slab is on the western side and measures 1.5m long by
1.25m wide. The north eastern cairn in this monument is constructed across a
slight natural scarp; its mound measures 9m in diameter, rising 0.9m high on
its western side, but only 0.5m high above the higher ground level to the
These cairns form part of a larger, more dispersed, group of 22 cairns,
including two entrance graves, which occupy the southern part of Gugh. Twenty
of the cairns, including this monument, are located on or immediately north of
a low ridge incorporating the Carn of Works, which crosses the southern part
of the island transversely. The other two cairns are located south of the
ridge. Part of a prehistoric field system is located beyond the eastern limit
of this cairn group on Dropnose Point, 300m to the east. Another large and
diverse cairn group, partly integrated with a prehistoric field system,
occupies Kittern Hill on northern Gugh, 400m to the 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.