Two entrance graves and a platform cairn 95m NNW of Pig Rock on north eastern Salakee Down, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011936

Date first listed: 07-Oct-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 05-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Two entrance graves and a platform cairn 95m NNW of Pig Rock on north eastern Salakee Down, 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 92479 10395


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.

Entrance graves are funerary and ritual monuments whose construction and use dates to the later Neolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age (c.2500 - 1000 BC). They were constructed with a roughly circular mound of heaped rubble and earth, up to 25m in diameter, whose perimeter may be defined by a kerb of edge-set slabs or, occasionally, coursed stone. The mound contains a rectangular chamber built of edge-set slabs, coursed walling or both, and covered by large slabs, called capstones, set transversely across the chamber. The chamber was accessible via a gap in the mound's kerb or outer edge and often extends back beyond the centre of the mound. The cairn's mound and chamber may incorporate natural boulders and outcrops. Excavations in entrance graves have revealed cremated human bone and funerary urns, usually within the chambers but on occasion within the mound. Unburnt human bone has been also been recovered but is only rarely preserved. Some chambers have also produced ritual deposits of domestic midden debris, including dark earth typical of the surface soil found within settlements, animal bone and artefact fragments. Entrance graves may occur as single monuments or in small or large groups, often being associated with other cairn types in cemeteries. They may also occur in close proximity to broadly contemporary field boundaries. The national distribution of entrance graves is heavily weighted towards the Isles of Scilly which contain 79 of the 93 surviving examples recorded nationally, the remaining 14 being located in western Cornwall.

Platform cairns are also 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. As with entrance graves, 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. The considerable variation in form, the longevity and the associations both of platform cairns and the nationally rare entrance graves provide important information on the diversity of beliefs, burial practices and social organisation in the Bronze Age.

The two entrance graves and the platform cairn forming this grouping on Salakee Down have survived substantially intact despite the attentions of early antiquaries, whose unrecorded excavations at the entrance graves have confirmed the presence and some of the form of their internal chambers. The varied funerary structures contained within this monument and the proximity of this grouping to the other broadly contemporary and differing cairns on Salakee Down demonstrates the diversity of funerary practices and the nature of land use on this coastal margin during the Bronze Age.


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


The monument includes a close grouping of two prehistoric entrance graves and a platform cairn situated near the crest of a broad ridge on the north east edge of Salakee Down, overlooking Porth Hellick on the south east coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The entrance graves are situated 10m apart on a WSW-ENE axis, with the platform cairn located 12m SSW of the WSW entrance grave. The WSW entrance grave survives with a near-circular mound of heaped rubble measuring 11.5m east-west by 11m north-south, built out from the slight north facing slope. The periphery of the mound rises to a kerb of contiguous edge-set slabs, up to 1.6m long and 0.7m high, which is centred south of the mound's centre and measures 7.5m north-south by 7m east-west. The kerb has a 2.5m wide gap in its south east sector. Within the kerb, the surface of the mound is gently domed, rising to 0.6m above the south side ground level and 1.5m above the north side. Slightly east of the mound's centre is a massive elongated natural slab around which the entrance grave was built. The boulder measures 2.3m north-south by 1m wide and 0.5m high, with two smaller slabs, each 1.1m long, beside its east and south sides. The boulder defines the eastern side of the chamber. As a result of an unrecorded antiquarian excavation, the chamber is visible as a hollow, 1.75m wide and 0.1m deep, in the mound's surface, running along the western side of the boulder and accompanied to the south by a rounded turf-covered mound, 0.25m high, deriving from the excavation's spoil. A large slab, of which a 1.1m length and 0.6m width is visible, extends north west into the mound's surface from the western side of the hollow and is considered to form another structural element of the chamber. The ENE entrance grave survives with an ovoid turf-covered mound of heaped rubble measuring 7.5m east-west by 6.5m north-south, also built out from the north facing slope to rise up to 0.6m high from the south side and 1.2m high from the north. A perimeter kerb of spaced edge-set slabs, up to 1m long, 0.4m wide and 0.4m high, is visible on the northern side of the mound and is detectable in the thick vegetation around most of the rest of the mound's perimeter. An unrecorded antiquarian excavation has removed part of the mound's rubble over its northern half, partially revealing a central chamber. The visible extent of the chamber's interior in the excavation hollow measures 1.4m east-west by 0.9m north-south, defined by two edge-set slabs: one along the south side is at least 1.2m long and 0.5m high; the other, along the southern part of the east side, is 0.8m long and 0.3m high. Further, smaller slabs are visible in the north western part of the chamber hollow. The platform cairn survives with a gorse-covered circular mound of heaped rubble measuring 7m in diameter and up to 0.4m high. Beyond this monument, over a dozen surviving broadly contemporary cairns of various types are arranged as dispersed groups on Salakee Down from 190m to the south west.

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: 15355

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
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)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7534.01, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7534.02, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7534.03, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7531; 7534; 7537; 7539; 7540, (1988)
Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1022, 1975, consulted 1994
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9210 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing