Kerbed platform cairn with funerary chamber 190m north east of Water Rocks, Normandy Down, St Mary's
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1011940
Date first listed: 07-Oct-1976
Date of most recent amendment: 16-Mar-1995
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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 93063 11173
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'
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 platform cairn on Normandy Down has survived substantially intact. Despite the minor damage from antiquaries and stone-robbers, this cairn retains clearly the form and construction of its distinctive original kerbs and chamber, the presence of an inner kerb being unusual. The presence of this monument within a cemetery containing various cairn types, its proximity to a prehistoric field system on Water Rocks Down, and the disposition of this and the other cairn cemeteries on successive downs along the coast are all 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 with an internal
funerary chamber situated towards the eastern side of Normandy Down, on
eastern St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 13m in
diameter and rising 0.5m to a flattened platform, 10m in diameter. The
perimeter of the platform is defined by a kerb of eleven contiguous or closely
spaced slabs, up to 1.5m long, 0.9m wide and 0.4m high. Breaks occur in the
sequence of kerb slabs over the north east quadrant and in the ESE sector due
to relatively recent stone-robbing. Four low slabs within the southern and
western sectors of this kerb form disturbed remains of an inner kerb on a line
approximately 1.1m within the platform perimeter.
Centred slightly east of the platform centre is a slab-built rectangular
funerary chamber, its long axis oriented NW-SE. The south east half of the
chamber survives intact, its interior measuring 1.4m long, NW-SE, by 1.25m
wide and defined along each side and across its south east end by three large
edge-set slabs, up to 1.9m long, 1.1m wide and 0.7m high. Spanning this intact
end of the chamber is another massive rectangular slab called a capstone, laid
flat to rest on the side and end slabs, and measuring 1.8m long by 1.5m wide
and 0.4m thick. The open part of the chamber beneath the capstone is 0.6m
high, while the upper face of the capstone rises 0.75m high above the cairn's
platform. The north western half of the chamber has been affected by an
unrecorded antiquarian excavation, resulting in two small irregular hollows,
up to 0.3m deep, in the platform surface where the chamber's side slabs would
have extended. Some elements of the chamber's north west half are visible.
These include a displaced capstone embedded in the surface of the platform,
lying across the north west ends of the intact side slabs; a slender slab
projecting from beneath the north east tip of this capstone, and an edge-set
slab visible in the turf 1.5m north west of the displaced capstone.
This monument is located at the eastern end of a linear cairn cemetery
containing three other cairns dispersed across the plateau of Normandy Down.
The other cairns in this cemetery vary in form and include one entrance grave
while the two others also contain large funerary chambers. A broadly
contemporary field system extends south from Water Rocks Down, from 150m
south west of this monument. Other prehistoric cairn cemeteries are located to
the south on the successive coastal downs of Porth Hellick Down and Salakee
The surface of the modern metalled track passing immediately north of the
cairn is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.
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: 15371
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, The chambered Tombs on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, (1963), 9-18
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7236, (1988)
consulted 1994, Parkes, C., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7236.03, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7527, (1988)
Morley, B. & Rees, S., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1018, 1975, consulted 1994
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 9211 & 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 91 SW Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing