Platform cairn on northern Peninnis Head, 200m ESE of Buzza Tower


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009284

Date first listed: 04-Oct-1994


Ordnance survey map of Platform cairn on northern Peninnis Head, 200m ESE of Buzza Tower
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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. Mary's

National Grid Reference: SV 90817 10286


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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. 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.

This platform cairn on northern Peninnis Head has survived substantially intact with only minor disturbance evident from an antiquarian excavation and the modern cable trench. The prominent location of this cairn and its relationship with the other broadly contemporary cairns and field systems on and around Peninnis Head demonstrates well the nature of funerary activity and the organisation of land use during the Bronze Age.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a prehistoric platform cairn situated on the summit of the northern end of the broad ridge forming Peninnis Head, in the south west of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn survives with a turf-covered circular mound of heaped rubble, 10m in diameter, straddling a slight crest on the spine of the ridge such that the mound is 0.6m high from the south west side and 0.3m from the north east, rising to a flattened upper surface 4m in diameter. A row of three large slabs, each 1m-1.2m long and 0.5m wide, considered to derive from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation at the cairn, lie parallel to each other embedded in the turf from 1m beyond the western perimeter of the cairn, with a further slab partly exposed to their south. A modern electricity cable trench is visible as a slight, turf-covered linear hollow, 0.5m wide and 0.03m deep, running north-south across the eastern perimeter of the cairn. Beyond this monument, further broadly contemporary cairns are located on the crest of the ridge from 750m to the SSE at the southern end of Peninnis Head, with prehistoric field systems fringing the lower slopes. Two broadly contemporary chambered cairns, of which one still survives, occupied the summit of Buzza Hill, 200m to the WNW, the north westward extension of the ridge containing this monument. Until modern development, these cairns were intervisible with this monument. The electricity cable and its service trench are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

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: 15345

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7419, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7420, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7578, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Cornwall SMR entry PRN 7583, (1988)
Information from Mr K.S. Williams, 3/12/93,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps, SV 9009-9010, SV 9109-9110 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing