Kerbed platform cairn 90m north west of Stoney Porth, White Island
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010155
Date first listed: 08-Feb-1995
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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. Martin's
National Grid Reference: SV 92423 17624
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.
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 kerbed platform cairn on White Island has survived well and has not been excavated. The relationships between this monument, the other varied types of funerary cairn and the prehistoric field system on White Island, and the known submergence of the land since they were built, illustrate in a dramatic way the major environmental changes that have affected the setting of some surviving prehistoric monuments since their construction. They show the diversity of funerary practices and the organisation of land use among prehistoric communities.
The monument includes a prehistoric kerbed platform cairn situated near the
eastern end of the long eastern spur of the northern hill of White Island, off
St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly. This cairn is located towards the east
side of a group containing at least nine prehistoric cairns of various types
dispersed over the northern half of White Island.
The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble measuring
7m in diameter, rising to a flattened upper platform measuring 4m in diameter,
levelled on the slight northerly slope such that it is 0.6m high from the
north side and 0.2m high from the south. The perimeter of the platform is
defined by a kerb of slabs up to 0.75m long and 0.2m high, mostly edge-set and
inward leaning. A single large slab, 1.3m long, is also located on the western
perimeter of the mound. Within the southern half of the platform surface is a
single large flat slab measuring 1.2m north-south by 0.6m east-west and 0.3m
thick, considered to derive from the cairn's funerary structure.
Although this cairn is located on what is now a fairly small uninhabited
island, linked to the much larger St Martin's island at low tide, the physical
environment in which it was originally built was a broad rocky promontory on
the northern edge of the single large island that formerly united much of the
area of the present Isles of Scilly archipelago, from St Mary's northwards.
The gradual sinking of the land since this cairn was constructed has led to
the fragmentation of that island into the present scatter of large and small
islands and rocks. Other broadly contemporary funerary cairns in this
dispersed group on northern White Island are located from 55m to the east and
65m to the south, while prehistoric field systems are located from 125m to the
SSE on the central and southern parts of the island, extending onto the upper
shore of Porth Morran to the south as a result of the submergence.
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: 15390
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
Thomas, C, Exploration of a Drowned Landscape, (1985)
consulted 1993, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7097.11, (1988)
consulted 1993, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7099, (1988)
consulted 1993, Thorpe, C., AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7096-7, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 NW 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