Platform cairn on Carn Morval Down, 275m NNW of Isles of Scilly Golf Course club house, St Mary's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013454

Date first listed: 28-May-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Platform cairn on Carn Morval Down, 275m NNW of Isles of Scilly Golf Course club house, 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 90750 11991


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 Carn Morval Down has survived reasonably well and the antiquarian excavation has indicated the presence of a funerary structure within the mound. Despite the limited disturbance caused by that antiquarian activity, the mound has remained substantially intact. The proximity of this monument to the other varied types of funerary cairn dispersed near the north western coastal slope of St Mary's and to the prehistoric field system and settlements on that slope illustrates well the diversity of funerary practices and the organisation of land use among prehistoric communities.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric platform cairn situated on the north west crest of Carn Morval Down, overlooking the steep coastal slope on western St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn survives with a circular, steep-sided mound of heaped rubble, 12m in diameter, rising up to 1m high to a flattened upper surface, 6.5m in diameter. The upper surface bears a shallow central hollow, 2.5m in diameter and 0.3m deep, resulting from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. On the western edge of the hollow is a large exposed edge-set slab measuring 1.9m long, NNW-SSE, by 0.45m wide and rising 0.7m above the surface of the mound. The slab leans out to the south west and is considered to derive from a funerary structure at the cairn, displaced by the antiquarian excavation. A curving earthen bank extending from the south eastern edge of the mound is a recent addition defining a bunker on the adjacent golf course. Other, broadly contemporary, funerary monuments are dispersed near the west and north west coastal slope of St Mary's, including a small platform cairn 90m to the ESE and two large chambered cairns, called entrance graves, 400m to the north east and 460m to the NNE respectively. A large prehistoric field system with settlement sites extends along the north western slopes of Carn Morval and Halangy Downs from 100m north east of this monument.

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: 15381

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 7507.01, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps; SV 9011-9012 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Young, C.J., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1081, 1979, consulted 1994

End of official listing