Kerbed platform cairn on Salakee Down, 55m west of Church Porth, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011930

Date first listed: 04-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Kerbed platform cairn on Salakee Down, 55m west of Church Porth, 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 92238 10023


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 near Church Porth has survived well despite the minor hollow from the unrecorded antiquarian excavation. The 1990 excavation did not penetrate the fabric of the cairn and provided confirmation of the nature of this monument. The proximity of this monument to the other broadly contemporary and differing cairns on Salakee Down and to the house platforms on the coastal slope of the Down demonstrate the organisation of land use, the relationship between burial activity and settlement, and the diversity of funerary monuments 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 southern edge of Salakee Down, on a slight north east facing slope behind Church Point on the southern coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn survives with a turf-covered sub-circular mound of heaped rubble measuring 10m NW-SE by 8.5m NE-SW. The mound rises up to 0.7m high from the north east side but merges with the natural slope to the south west, though this is now largely masked by the bank of a runway of St Mary's Airport which passes immediately south west of this cairn. The mound rises asymmetrically to a flattened platform measuring 5.5m NW-SE by 4.5m NE-SW, centred south west of the mound's centre and extending out from the former natural slope on the south west edge of the mound. Two small spaced kerb stones, up to 0.7m long and 0.1m high, are visible on the north west perimeter of the platform edge. An oval hollow measuring 2.2m NW-SE by 1m NE-SW and 0.1m deep is located near the NNE edge of the platform and is considered to result from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. In 1990, a limited excavation was undertaken at this cairn in advance of the extension of the nearby airport runway. The excavation removed only the turf and topsoil along a strip 1m wide and 3m long across the north west slope and platform edge, confirming the artificial nature of the cairn's rubble make-up and the deliberate setting of one of the kerb-stones on the platform edge. Beyond this monument, over a dozen surviving broadly contemporary cairns of various types are arranged as dispersed groups on Salakee Down from 40m to the east. A group of broadly contemporary house platforms is located 400m to the west on the coastal margin below the southern slope of the Down.

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: 15349

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A, St Mary's Airport Runway Extension, (1991)
CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7557, (1988)
CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7531; 7534; 7537; 7539; 7540, (1988)

End of official listing