Two kerbed platform cairns on Salakee Down, 40m north west of Church Porth, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011931

Date first listed: 04-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Two kerbed platform cairns on Salakee Down, 40m north 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 92271 10081


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.

These kerbed platform cairns on Salakee Down have survived well despite the minor hollow in the WSW cairn from the unrecorded antiquarian excavation. The proximity of these cairns 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 monument during the Bronze Age.


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


The monument includes two prehistoric kerbed platform cairns situated near the base of a natural trough leading down towards Church Porth on southern Salakee Down, near the south coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairns are situated 1.5m apart on a WSW-ENE axis. The ENE cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 6m in diameter, rising up to 0.7m high on the east side and 0.3m high on the west. The mound rises to a sub-circular shallow-domed platform 3.5m-4m in diameter, centred slightly north west of the mound's centre. Two kerb stones are visible on the periphery of the platform, 1m within the edge of the mound: one on the WNW side is 0.7m long, 0.3m thick and is edge-set, standing 0.35m high; the other, on the ENE side, is 0.8m long, 0.25m thick and leans markedly to the west, reaching a height of 0.4m. The WSW cairn survives with an ovoid mound of heaped rubble measuring 7m NE-SW by 4.75m NW-SE and rising up to 0.6m high to a similarly ovoid flattened platform, measuring 5m NE-SW by 4m NW-SE. The platform's central area contains a rounded hollow, 1.75m in diameter and 0.2m deep, resulting from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. A kerb of at least three irregularly spaced slabs is visible on the edges of the platform; the largest slab, on the south eastern edge, is edge-set, 0.4m high, 0.75m long and 0.25m thick; the others, 0.75m long on the southern edge and 0.3m long on the north west edge, lie exposed in the turf covering the mound's rubble. 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 WNW. A group of broadly contemporary house platforms is located 430m 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: 15350

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)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7557, (1988)
consulted 1994, CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7531; 7534; 7537; 7539; 7540, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7540.01, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7540.02, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9210 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing