Two entrance graves 220m ENE of Salakee Farm, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011937

Date first listed: 18-Jun-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 05-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Two entrance graves 220m ENE of Salakee 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 92335 10647


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 or coursed rubble walling, or a combination of both. The chamber was roofed by further slabs, called capstones, set 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 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.

These entrance graves on the northern edge of Salakee Down have survived reasonably well. Despite evidence for limited stone-robbing and for some disruption affecting the surface features of the south eastern entrance grave, they retain a good range of original features, including their platformed mounds, kerbs and funerary chambers. Such a close juxtaposition of two entrance graves is unusual and the proximity of these cairns to the other broadly contemporary and differing cairns on Salakee Down demonstrates the nature of land use on this coastal margin and the diversity of funerary practices during the Bronze Age.


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


The monument includes two closely spaced prehistoric entrance graves situated on the summit of a low hill at the extreme northern edge of Salakee Down bordering the north west side of Porth Hellick, on the south east coast of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The entrance graves are situated 1.75m apart on a north west-south east axis. The north western entrance grave survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 10.5m in diameter. It is situated on the north west side of the summit, rising 0.9m high from the north west edge and 0.7m high from the south east. The top of the mound has a flattened platform, 6.5m in diameter, defined by a kerb of almost contiguous slabs, up to 0.8m long by 0.45m wide, and rising up to 0.4m above the outer slope of the mound. The chamber of the entrance grave crosses the kerbed platform on a NNE-SSW axis and is visible as a hollow, 1.1m - 1.2m wide and 0.2m deep, extending 5.75m from an entrance gap in the NNE side of the kerb to a massive, slightly displaced end slab, 1.9m long, 0.75m wide and 0.6m high, partly blocking the SSW end. The floor and sides of the chamber are largely covered by deep leafmould through which a near-contiguous row of laid and edge-set wall slabs, up to 1m long, 0.2m wide and 0.2m high, is visible along each side. The chamber's covering slabs have been removed by later unrecorded stone-robbing. The south eastern entrance grave also survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 8m in diameter and up to 0.6m high. Along the NNW and eastern edges of the mound are five exposed slabs from an otherwise robbed or obscured outer kerb. Other large ground-fast slabs are located just beyond the mound on its NNW and ESE sides. The top of the mound is defined by an inner kerb, 4.4m in diameter, formed of laid slabs, up to 0.65m long, 0.3m wide and rising 0.25m above the mound's outer slope. The kerb has been partly robbed at a much later date and survives with two adjoining slabs on the south east and other exposed slabs on its north east, north and north-west sectors. Within the kerb, the mound rises 0.2m to the remains of the funerary chamber, crossing the kerbed area on a NNE-SSW long axis. The chamber's visible features, partly disrupted by an unrecorded stone-robbing episode, include a hollow 1.1m wide across the central kerbed area and flanked over the southern 2.8m of its western side by a row of three near-contiguous large slabs, up to 1.1m long, 0.6m wide and 0.5m high. Two small slabs are exposed on the eastern side of the chamber opposite the central slab of the western row. Slightly north of the mound's centre, a very large slab, 1.3m long, 0.9m wide and 0.5m high, rests on the surface in the line of the chamber hollow and is considered to be a displaced chamber-wall slab. At the NNE end of the chamber, a small slab is exposed on the line of the chamber's western wall. Beyond the visible SSW end of the chamber, and 0.75m outside the line of the mound's kerb, the outer slope of the mound contains a large slab, 1.1m long, 0.3m wide and 0.25m high, set at right-angles to the chamber's long axis and considered to be a displaced end slab or covering slab from the chamber. Beyond this monument, over a dozen surviving broadly contemporary cairns of various types are arranged as dispersed groups on Salakee Down from 270m to the south east, while a large cairn is located around an outcrop on Salakee Farm, in the valley floor 100m to the north 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: 15356

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
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 7531.01, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7531.03, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7531; 7534; 7537; 7539; 7540, (1988)
Saunders, A.D., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 628, 1965, consulted 1994
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9210 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing