Kerbed platform cairn on Helvear Hill, 210m ENE of Helvear Farm, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010168

Date first listed: 09-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Kerbed platform cairn on Helvear Hill, 210m ENE of Helvear 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 92305 12373


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 and chambered platform cairn on Helvear Hill has survived reasonably well and has not been archaeologically excavated. Despite the attentions of stone robbers, it has a largely intact mound and retains a good range of original features, including its chamber and parts of its kerb. The proximity of this cairn to the round cairn on Helvear Hill and the disposition of these and the other cairns and field systems surviving on the successive hills along the coast are factors combining to illustrate well the diversity 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 situated near the north eastern crest of Helvear Hill on the north east edge of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, up to 8m in diameter and 0.4m high. Four slabs, averaging 1m long, 0.4m wide and 0.3m high, form part of a perimeter kerb along the north western edge of the mound. Traces of a funerary chamber survive on the mound's upper surface, south east of its centre. These are visible as a hollow, 1.5m long, north east-south west, by 1m wide and 0.5m deep, with parts of its slab-built walling visible on the north west and south west sides. A large slab, 2.1m long by 1.8m wide and 0.5m thick, lies on the south west periphery of the mound beyond the end of the chamber hollow and is considered to be a displaced covering slab from the chamber. The evident disturbance to the chamber and the kerb at this cairn have been identified with a stone robbing incident recorded here in 1903, when the nearby pasture on the hill was created. This monument is located near the north eastern end of the broad ridge forming Helvear Hill, close to its steep scarp down to the coast. The monument is situated 80m north east of a broadly contemporary round cairn further along the spine of the ridge. Other chambered cairns and a broadly contemporary field system are located from 295m to the NNW on the flanks of Innisidgen Hill.

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: 15377

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7458, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9212 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing