Prehistoric entrance grave and two round cairns on the Clapper of Works, Gugh
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008337
Date first listed: 07-Oct-1976
Date of most recent amendment: 13-Oct-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Isles of Scilly (Unitary Authority)
Parish: St. Agnes
National Grid Reference: SV 89056 07961
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.
Entrance graves are funerary and ritual monuments whose construction and use
dates to the later Neolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC).
They were constructed with a roughly circular mound of heaped rubble and
earth, up to 25m in diameter, whose perimeter may be defined by a kerb of
edge-set slabs or, occasionally, coursed stone. The mound contains a
rectangular chamber built of edge-set slabs or coursed rubble walling, or a
combination of both. The chamber was roofed by further slabs, called
capstones, set across the chamber. The chamber was accessible via a gap in the
mound's kerb or outer edge and often extends back beyond the centre of the
mound. The cairn's mound and chamber may incorporate natural boulders and
outcrops. Excavations in entrance graves have revealed cremated human bone and
funerary urns, usually within the chambers but on occasion within the mound.
Unburnt human bone has also been recovered but is only rarely preserved. Some
chambers have also produced ritual deposits of domestic midden debris,
including dark earth typical of the surface soil found within settlements,
animal bone and artefact fragments. Entrance graves may occur as single
monuments or in small or large groups, often being associated with other cairn
types in cemeteries. They may also occur in close proximity to broadly
contemporary field boundaries. The national distribution of entrance graves is
heavily weighted towards the Isles of Scilly which contain 79 of the 93
surviving examples recorded nationally, the remaining 14 being located in
Round cairns are also 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. The considerable variation in form, the longevity and the associations both of round cairns and the nationally rare entrance graves provide important information on the diversity of beliefs, burial practices and social organisation in the Bronze Age.
This monument on the Clapper of Works has survived well, with only minor disruption evident at the chamber of the entrance grave due to the unrecorded antiquarian excavation and no disturbance at all evident at the round cairns. 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 a prehistoric funerary entrance grave and two
prehistoric round cairns situated on a natural eminence, the Clapper of Works,
at the western end of a low ridge across the southern part of Gugh in the
Isles of Scilly.
The entrance grave is located on the top of the Clapper of Works outcrop while
the round cairns are situated from 18m north east, on the gentle rise towards
the Carn of Works, and are spaced 14m apart on a WNW-ESE axis.
The entrance grave survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 13m in
diameter, incorporating part of the natural outcrop in its make-up and with
sides rising steeply to a flattened upper surface, up to 1.5m high. The upper
parts of a slab-built burial chamber are visible in the surface of the mound.
These surface remains indicate a rectangular chamber, 1.4m wide, with sides
defined by edge-set slabs and roofed by long slabs, called capstones, resting
on the side slabs and set transversely across the chamber. The four surviving
capstones each measure 2m long by 0.7m wide and 0.4m thick. The chamber has a
long axis orientated NW-SE and it extends for at least 4m to the centre of the
mound from the south eastern periphery of the mound's upper surface. The
capstones have been slightly displaced, typically the result of an unrecorded
antiquarian excavation, revealing the chamber interior filled with earthen
deposits to within 0.4m of the mound's upper surface.
The two round cairns each survive with a circular mound of heaped rubble. The
WNW cairn of the pair has a mound 6.5m in diameter and up to 0.8m high above
the crest of the ridge, overlooking a small valley containing more cairns to
the north west. The ESE cairn has a mound 7m in diameter and up to 0.6m high,
less prominently sited on the slope towards the Carn of Works.
This entrance grave and the two nearby round cairns form part of a larger,
more dispersed, group of 22 cairns, including another entrance grave, which
occupy the southern part of Gugh. Twenty of the cairns, including this
monument, are located on or immediately north of a low ridge which
incorporates the Clapper of Works and the Carn of Works, crossing 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, 270m north east of this monument.
Another large and diverse cairn group, partly integrated with a prehistoric
field system, occupies Kittern Hill on northern Gugh, 500m 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.
Legacy System number: 15294
Legacy System: RSM
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, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7020.10, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A./CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7020.11, (1988)
consulted 1993, Waters, A./CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 7020.12, (1988)
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1016, 1975, cairn 'j'
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