The Long Rock prehistoric standing stone on Long Rock Down, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013276

Date first listed: 21-May-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Oct-1998


Ordnance survey map of The Long Rock prehistoric standing stone on Long Rock 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 91367 12404


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. Standing stones are prehistoric ritual monuments dating to the later Neolithic and Bronze Age (c.2500-700 BC). They comprise single or paired upright slabs, ranging in height from under 1m to over 6m where still erect. They are often conspicuously sited, though many are located in relatively sheltered settings. Excavations have demonstrated subsurface features adjacent to standing stones, including funerary cists, spreads of pebbles and various pits and hollows containing human bone, cremations and domestic debris. Excavated sockets for standing stones vary considerably in depth, reflecting variations in the stones' heights. In addition to having a ritual function, standing stones may also have acted as markers for routeways, territorial boundaries, graves and meeting points. Estimates suggest that about 250 standing stones are known nationally, of which seven examples are known to survive on the Isles of Scilly. Standing stones are important for our understanding of ritual, land division and land use among prehistoric communities.

This standing stone has survived well with no recorded disturbance from its present location. The concentration of flint artefacts recorded near this stone provides evidence for this site having formed a focus for prehistoric activity. The relatively close grouping of standing stones known on this part of the island is also unusual, while the wider relationship between the monument, its topographical setting and the settlements and field systems on the slopes of the hill demonstrates the organisation and development of ritual and settlement activity among prehistoric communities. The intact survival of this slab on an island where stone was widely worked for building stone and gateposts denotes a high degree of respect from the island's community, a recognition reflected in the formal title `Long Rock' given to this standing stone, and the bestowal of that title on the wider area of downland in which it stands.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric standing stone, known as the Long Rock, situated on a slight north west facing slope on Long Rock Down, towards the northern end of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The standing stone is visible as an erect, granite slab standing 2.4m high and leaning to the south east. Its base is of almost square section, 0.75m across each side and the faces oriented NNW-SSE and ENE-WSW. The slab barely tapers until 0.8m below the upper end; there the slab undergoes a weathered step inwards, principally on the WSW face, reducing the upper end to a rectangular section, tapering from 0.6m NNW-SSE by 0.5m ENE-WSW to a blunt rounded upper end bearing a weathered facet sloping down to the south west. The surfaces of the slab are evenly weathered, producing some lengthwise grooving on all faces except the NNW. A prominent ovoid weathered hollow also occurs on the north eastern edge of the slab, 0.2m below the upper end; this hollow measures 0.3m vertically by 0.2m across and is 0.1m deep. A much more recent feature visible on the NNW face of the slab is an inverted Ordnance Survey benchmark at a point 0.2m above ground level. Although no other prehistoric structures present surface remains in the immediate vicinity of the standing stone, it forms the focus of one of the island's concentrations of flint artefact finds, including several scrapers and an arrowhead from close by, indicating a broader area of prehistoric activity around this monument. In its wider context, the standing stone is located towards the northern crest of the highest hill on the islands, with two other standing stones located 307m to the north west and 400m to the west on Halangy Down, on the north west slope of the hill. Broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems also survive on Halangy Down, from 235m to the west, and on the present coastal slopes and margin around Bar Point, from 275m 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: 15405

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1756)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Mackenzie, P Z, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Thumb-nail scrapers in the Isles of Scilly, , Vol. 6, (1967), 109
consulted 1993, Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7442, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7491, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7441 & 7490, (1988)
consulted 1993, Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7476, 7477, 7480, 7483, 7484, (1988)
Saunders, A D, AM7 scheduling documentation for SI 573, 1958,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing