Kerbed platform cairn 90m north west of Old Rock, Porth Hellick Down, St Mary's
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1011946
Date first listed: 09-May-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 92841 10655
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 Porth Hellick Down has survived well and has not been excavated. The presence of this monument within a cemetery containing various cairn types, its proximity to a prehistoric field system on the western slope of the 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.
The monument includes a prehistoric platform cairn situated on the southern
part of Porth Hellick Down, on south eastern St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly.
The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 7.5m in
diameter and 0.4m high. The mound rises to a flattened platform, 4m in
diameter, sloping in conformity with the surrounding slight southerly
hillslope. Two small, spaced, edge-set kerb stones, up to 0.5m wide and 0.3m
high, are visible on the northern edge of the platform.
This monument forms part of a cairn cemetery containing at least eight other
cairns dispersed across the central plateau of Porth Hellick Down. The cairns
in this cemetery vary in form but include at least six entrance graves,
forming one of the largest surviving groupings of this type of monument. A
broadly contemporary field system extends along the north west slope of the
Down. Other prehistoric cairn cemeteries are located on the adjacent coastal
downs of Salakee Down to the south west and Normandy Down to the NNE.
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: 15363
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7527, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7528, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7528.06, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9210 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