Kerbed platform cairn 80m north east of Mount Todden Farm, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010164

Date first listed: 28-May-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Kerbed platform cairn 80m north east of Mount Todden Farm, St Mary's
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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 92870 11488


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 large platform cairn on Mount Todden Down has survived well, despite the attentions of stone robbers on its north west margin. This is one of the largest platform cairns on the Isles of Scilly and retains a good and clear range of original features, including its platform, kerb incorporating outcrops, and chamber. The incorporation of natural boulders and outcrops into the mound, occasionally forming part of the funerary chamber, is a feature found amongst certain other cairns on the Isles of Scilly but which is unusual and rare nationally. The proximity of this monument to the prehistoric field boundaries on the eastern slope of the Down, and the disposition of this cairn and the other cairn cemeteries on successive downs along the coast are factors combining to illustrate well the nature of funerary practices 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 kerbed platform cairn incorporating a large natural outcrop which was used to define part of a funerary chamber. The cairn is situated close to the south western edge of Mount Todden Down, on eastern St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.

The platform cairn survives with a turf-covered circular mound of heaped rubble, 15m in diameter, rising up to 1.7m high to a rounded, flattened platform measuring 7.5m north east-south west by 5.5m north west-south east. A hollow in the north western side of the mound is considered to result from stone robbing for the nearby modern field wall. Two slabs, up to 1m long, 0.4m wide and 0.4m high, form a partial kerb on the northern crest of the platform's scarp. The cairn and its platform incorporate a large natural outcrop which dominates the south east half of the mound. The outcrop includes four component exposures of bedrock.

The largest is a sub-triangular weathered block, 1.8m high and measuring 5.75m long, north east-south west, by up to 3m wide. The other three components are large, slender, fractured slabs, up to 4m long and 0.8m wide, detached from the main exposure, one to each side and the third extending 3.5m beyond the north east end of the main block. The smallest of these bedrock exposures, a slab 1.1m long, north east-south west by 0.5m wide, is located near the centre of the cairn against the northern side of the main block's north eastern tip. This small exposure rises 0.2m above the upper surface of the platform and defines the south east side of the cairn's funerary chamber. The north west side of the chamber is defined by a 1.5m long row of laid slabs, on a north east-south west axis, parallel with the small exposure, giving the chamber an internal width of 1.75m, with no visible end slabs.

This monument is located 190m WSW of a prehistoric linear boundary on the eastern coastal slope of Mount Todden Down, while cemeteries of broadly contemporary funerary cairns are located on each of the successive coastal downs to the south, from Normandy Down to Salakee Down.

The modern post and wire fence passing west of the cairn is 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: 15373

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, The chambered Tombs on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, (1963), 9-18
Ashbee, P, The chambered Tombs on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, (1963), 9-18
Ashbee, P, The chambered Tombs on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, (1963), 9-18
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7234, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for SCilly SMR entry PRN 7436, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 91 SW Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Young, C.J., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1082, 1979, consulted 1994

End of official listing