Platform cairn 100m NNW of Water Rocks, Normandy Down, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011951

Date first listed: 17-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Platform cairn 100m NNW of Water Rocks, Normandy 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 92907 11143


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.

This platform cairn on Normandy Down has survived well, retaining a clear and unusually large funerary chamber. The incorporation of natural boulders and outcrops into the mound, occasionally forming part of the funerary chamber, is a feature found amongst certain other cairns on the Isles of Scilly but which is unusual and rare nationally. 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 platform cairn incorporating a large natural boulder used to define part of a funerary chamber. The cairn is situated on the south western edge of Normandy Down, on eastern St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 10m in diameter, across a slight natural scarp on the edge of the Down such that it rises gently to 0.4m high from the ground surface to the north, but has a steep slope to 1.2m high from the south. The mound rises to a shallow-domed platform, 4.5m in diameter, incorporating a large natural boulder along its southern side. The boulder measures 3.6m ENE-WSW by up to 1.8m wide, rising 0.75m above the edge of the mound to the south but only 0.1m above the platform surface to the north. The boulder forms the southern edge of a broad funerary chamber centred south west of the platform centre. The northern side of the chamber is defined by a large edge-set slab, measuring 2.4m east-west by 0.2m wide and 0.6m high. The resulting chamber, whose east and west ends lack visible definition, tapers from 2.5m wide at the east to 2m wide at the west. This monument is located at the western 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, including two others with large funerary chambers and one entrance grave. A broadly contemporary field system extends south from Water Rocks Down, from 50m south of this monument, while other prehistoric cairn cemeteries are located to the south on the successive coastal downs of Porth Hellick Down and Salakee 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: 15368

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
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 7236.05, (1988)
consulted 1994, Waters, A., AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7527, (1988)
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:

End of official listing