Prehistoric kerbed boulder 172m north west of Horse Point, St Agnes


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016511

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric kerbed boulder 172m north west of Horse Point, St Agnes
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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. Agnes

National Grid Reference: SV8816907232


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.

Kerbed boulders are one of a diverse range of ritual monuments dating to the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.2500-1500 BC). They were constructed with a kerb of small upright slabs surrounding a natural ground-fast boulder; the kerb slabs may either touch to form a continuous row or may be spaced apart. An outlying upright slab is known in at least two examples. Kerbed boulders are a relatively recently recognised class of prehistoric monument which combine elements present in other types of contemporary ritual and funerary monument. The emphasis placed on natural features, with an implied reverence for them, is clearly evident on a larger scale in south west England in prehistoric tor cairns and the choice of distinctive hills for the siting of neolithic hilltop enclosures. The use of a ring of upright slabs as a visible means of indicating reverence or a sacred area occurs widely in prehistoric contexts, notably in the form of stone circles and the prominent kerbs and stone settings around many funerary cairns. Under a dozen kerbed boulders are currently known nationally, from Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and the Isles of Scilly, but this number is expected to rise as modern perception of them increases. As a very rare monument type providing valuable insights into the ordering of the landscape within prehistoric belief systems, all surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. This kerbed boulder 172m north west of Horse Point survives well despite the fall of several of its encircling slabs and it shows no evidence for ground disturbance. Its form and context provide a good example of the essentially local ritual significance that most kerbed boulders imply, its focal slab not especially distinguished within the surrounding terrain by its physical characteristics other than by the presence of the artificial kerbing. Its presence within the area of the prehistoric cairn cemetery on Wingletang Down and its proximity to one of those cairns which includes a natural outcrop as an integral feature emphasise the lack of any meaningful separation between ritual and funerary activities among prehistoric communities.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric kerbed boulder, a form of early ritual monument highlighting a natural boulder, situated on the western coastal shelf of the southernmost headland of St Agnes in the south west of the Isles of Scilly. The kerbed boulder has a large natural slab as its focus, subtriangular in plan with a flattened upper surface up to 3m across. The slab rises to 0.5m high at its north west edge, tilts down to the south east and is encircled by a ring of smaller spaced slabs. Three of these are edge-set, standing from 0.25m-0.4m from the central slab's edge: two on the south, to 0.7m long and 0.25m high, and one on the NNE, 0.5m long and 0.2m high. Four other slabs, 0.6m-1m across, lie flat on the east, north and north west and are considered to have fallen outwards. Another edge-set slab, 0.75m long and 0.25m high, forms a small outlier whose long axis is aligned towards the monument's focal slab 3m to the SSW. This is one of at least two kerbed boulders on St Agnes; it is also located within the area of a large prehistoric cairn cemetery which encompasses much of Wingletang Down, the island's unenclosed southern heathland. Many of the cemetery's cairns also incorporate natural boulders and outcrops as a deliberate feature, including the nearest cairn centred only 12m to the south.

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: 15528

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing