Kerbed platform cairn 120m south east of Black Carn, Bryher


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015544

Date first listed: 04-Oct-1996


Ordnance survey map of Kerbed platform cairn 120m south east of Black Carn, Bryher
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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: Bryher

National Grid Reference: SV 87174 15034


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 cairn on the northern coast of Gweal Hill survives substantially intact despite the loss of its NNE edge to coastal erosion, and retains sufficient area behind the cliff to indicate that surviving remains of this cairn have a medium to long term future. It shows clear evidence for its original structural form and has not been excavated. Its low level situation at the foot of a slope is unusual and its relationship to the cairn group on the summit of the hill highlights the diversity of prehistoric funerary and ritual traditions. Its relationship with the broadly contemporary field system around the slopes of the hill demonstrates the wider manner in which farming and ritual activity was organised during the prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric kerbed platform cairn situated near Black Carn on the northern coastal margin of Gweal Hill on western Bryher, in the north west of the Isles of Scilly. The cairn survives with a sub-circular mound of heaped rubble and earth, 6m in diameter, truncated along its NNE side by the coastal cliff. The mound rises 0.2m high on the surface but the exposed cliff section reveals its height of 0.5m above its contemporary ground surface, the surrounding ground level having subsequently become raised by peaty deposits beneath the present turf. The exposed mound rubble is generally 0.2m-0.3m across. The mound rises to a flattened platform 4.5m in diameter whose perimeter is defined by a kerb of raised slabs variously 0.2m to 0.75m long, 0.1m to 0.3m high and generally spaced 0.1m to 0.6m apart but with a larger gap on the west. Embedded in the south west of the platform is a larger slab, 1.2m long and 0.3m high. Beyond this monument, a group of three broadly contemporary cairns is located on the summit of Gweal Hill, from 135m to the south, and a prehistoric field system extends around the western and southern slopes of the hill from 110m to the south west. These are the subjects of separate schedulings.

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: 15459

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A CAU, Fieldwork in Scilly Autumn 1990, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7686, (1991)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing