Prehistoric entrance grave, the middle one of three on Cruther's Hill, St Martin's
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1013804
Date first listed: 07-Oct-1976
Date of most recent amendment: 25-Jan-1996
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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. Martin's
National Grid Reference: SV 92913 15178
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.
Entrance graves are funerary and ritual monuments whose construction and use
dates to the later Neolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC).
They were constructed with a roughly circular mound of heaped rubble and
earth, up to 25m in diameter, whose perimeter may be defined by a kerb of
edge-set slabs or, occasionally, coursed stone. The mound contains a
rectangular chamber built of edge-set slabs or coursed rubble walling, or a
combination of both. The chamber was roofed by further slabs, called
capstones, set across the chamber. The chamber was accessible via a gap in the
mound's kerb or outer edge and often extends back beyond the centre of the
mound. The cairn's mound and chamber may incorporate natural boulders and
outcrops. Excavations in entrance graves have revealed cremated human bone and
funerary urns, usually within the chambers but on occasion within the mound.
Unburnt human bone has also been recovered but is only rarely preserved. Some
chambers have also produced ritual deposits of domestic midden debris,
including dark earth typical of the surface soil found within settlements,
animal bone and artefact fragments. Entrance graves may occur as single
monuments or in small or large groups, often being associated with other cairn
types in cemeteries. They may also occur in close proximity to broadly
contemporary field boundaries. The national distribution of entrance graves is
heavily weighted towards the Isles of Scilly which contain 79 of the 93
surviving examples recorded nationally, the remaining 14 being located in
This entrance grave on Cruthers Hill has survived well, forming a very good example of the monument class, with only limited disturbance evident from the removal of the funerary chamber's covering slabs. The prominent siting of this monument demonstrates the important role played by landscape features in the beliefs and perception of prehistoric communities, a point reinforced by the monument's proximity to other prehistoric funerary monuments along the summit ridge of Cruther's Hill. The wider organisation of prehistoric land use and the later profound changes in landscape context are illustrated by the monument's relationship with the prehistoric cists and settlement sites in the inter-tidal zone to the east and west of Cruther's Hill.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a prehistoric entrance grave situated near the centre of
the summit ridge of Cruther's Hill, on the south coast of St Martin's in the
Isles of Scilly.
The entrance grave survives with a circular mound of heaped earth and rubble, 14.5m in diameter and up to 2m high, on a natural knoll near the centre of the hill's narrow summit ridge. The mound rises gently over its peripheral 2m-2.5m, then adopts a much steeper gradient, rising to a shallow-domed upper platform defined by a slab-built kerb 7.5m-8m in external diameter. The kerb includes near contiguous large slabs, up to 1.5m long and 1.4m high, mostly edge-set and extending down part of the mound's upper slope. The kerb also incorporates occasional bedrock outcrops from the underlying knoll.
Within the mound is a large, slab-built, rectangular funerary chamber orientated WSW-ENE. The chamber measures 4.5m long, up to 1.1m wide and up to 1.1m deep, with its entrance at the ENE side accompanied by a break in the kerb line. Its walls combine both edge-set and coursed slabs, with individual slabs up to 1.9m long and 1.1m high. A small outcrop of bedrock is visible in the south west edge of the floor. The chamber is unroofed, its former covering slabs having been robbed for other purposes.
This entrance grave is one of a linear group of four broadly contemporary funerary monuments dispersed along 130m of the summit ridge of Cruther's Hill. This is a highly prominent cairn group which is visible over considerable distances to the east and west. Beyond the group, a further funerary cairn is located 170m NNW of this monument, in the saddle between Cruther's Hill and Higher Town. Small prehistoric box-like funerary chambers, called cists, are known from now submerged locations overlooked by Cruther's Hill to both east and west, while those cists to the east are also accompanied by broadly contemporary settlement sites on the sloping beach of Higher Town Bay.
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: 15417
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Arlott, J, Island Camera, (1983)
Borlase, W, Observations on Ancient and Present State of the Isles of Scilly, (1756)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7170, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7172, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7172.02, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7147, 7302-3, (1988)
consulted 1994, Thorpe, C/CAU, AM107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7148 & 7178, (1988)
Rees, S, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 992, 1975,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9215 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