Four round cairns 70m south east of Carn Wrean, Gugh


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Four round cairns 70m south east of Carn Wrean, Gugh
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Isles of Scilly (Unitary Authority)
St. Agnes
National Grid Reference:
SV 88984 08065

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' settlement. 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 activities.


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 east.

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.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1993, Waters, A./CAU, AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7020.01, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A./CAU, AM107 for Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7020.02, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A./CAU, AM107 for Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7020.03, (1988)
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documenation for CO 1016, 1975, consulted 1993
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1016, 1975, cairn 'd'
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1016, 1975, consulted 1993
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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