Kerbed platform cairn 110m north of Porth Morran, White Island

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010156

Date first listed: 09-Feb-1995

Map

Ordnance survey map of Kerbed platform cairn 110m north of Porth Morran, White Island
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Location

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 92329 17600

Summary

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 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 also show the diversity of funerary practices and the organisation of land use among prehistoric communities.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric kerbed platform cairn situated on the south east slope of the northern hill of White Island, off St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly. This cairn is located near the centre 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 5.5m in diameter, rising to a flattened upper platform measuring 3m in diameter, levelled on the south easterly slope such that it is 0.5m high from the south east side and merges with the slope on the north west. The perimeter of the platform has three well spaced slabs, up to 0.4m high, projecting from its east, south east and west sides, forming a partial kerb. 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 40m to the south and 65m to the south west, while prehistoric field systems are located from 130m to the south west on the central and southern parts of the island, extending onto the upper shore of Porth Morran 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 15391

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

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)
Other
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7097.08, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7099, (1988)
consulted 1994, 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:

End of official listing