Platform cairn on Burnt Island


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016510

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Platform cairn on Burnt Island
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 14:21:45.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Isles of Scilly (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Agnes

National Grid Reference: SV8740208630


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.

The platform cairn on Burnt Island survives well, with no evidence for excavation or disturbance, and contains an unusually rich array of visible features. Its incorporation of small bedrock outcrops shows well the influence and integration of natural landscape features into prehistoric ritual and funerary activity, emphasised very clearly in this instance by the kerbing around the outcrops' southern ends.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric platform cairn with traces of an internal funerary structure and incorporating a group of natural outcrops on the north west of Burnt Island, a small uninhabited island off the north west coast of St Agnes in the south west of the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn survives with a low `D'-shaped mound 9m in diameter, reduced to 6.7m east-west by its straight western side. The mound rises steeply along its edges to a low flattened upper surface 0.3m high. Close to its western edge, the mound incorporates three small bedrock outcrops, each weathered to a slender slab-like form with a north-south axis: two rise 1.2m high and stand side-by-side at the south of the cluster, the third is 1.4m high and 1m to the north. The northern outcrop and the southern pair each have a low kerb around their southern ends, comprising closely spaced flat and edge-set slabs to 0.6m long and 0.25m high. To their west, the cairn's straight western edge is marked by a kerb of closely spaced small slabs, 0.2m- 0.6m across, generally 0.2m high and many of them edge-set. This western kerb extends 8.75m NNW from beside the southern pair of outcrops, past the northern outcrop and beyond, ending on the north at two large slabs which extend eastwards, one resting on the other: the upper slab is 1.25m long and 0.5m high; the lower is 0.7m long and 0.4m high. Between the eastern end of these slabs and the northern outcrop, the tips of further slabs are exposed in the surface of the turf. The disposition of these features is considered to indicate a box-like funerary structure called a cist between the northern two slabs and the northern outcrop. Beyond these features, two slabs of a possible former kerb are visible on the perimeter of the mound on the north and north east.

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: 15527

Legacy System: RSM


Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 80 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing