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Prehistoric cairn cemetery and field system on Shipman Head Down and Great Bottom, Bryher

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Prehistoric cairn cemetery and field system on Shipman Head Down and Great Bottom, Bryher

List entry Number: 1017784

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Isles of Scilly

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Bryher

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 07-Oct-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Mar-1998

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15516

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

This monument contains a good and very extensive survival of prehistoric funerary and settlement remains, showing clearly the succession of land uses applied to this elevated heathland terrain by prehistoric communities. The scale of survival of the prehistoric remains on Shipman Head Down is sufficiently extensive to allow significant insights into wider landscape organisation during that early period. The cemetery contains one of the largest and most concentrated groupings of prehistoric funerary cairns, whose proximity and similarity to another such cemetery on the northern upland of Tresco emphasises the importance of landforms in the physical organisation of prehistoric funerary activity. This organisation is demonstrated in more detail by the non-random distribution of the cemetery's cairns across Shipman Head Down, particularly the emphases on scarp crests for linear cairn groups within the cemetery, on locally prominent positions for its chambered cairns, and northern grouping of cairns specifically focussed on natural features. The prehistoric field system shows unusually clearly its successive relationship with the cairn cemetery and by its slighting of so many cairns, it illustrates the development of attitudes towards such earlier funerary methods. Its layout again demonstrates strong influence from the underlying topography on agricultural activities, while its pattern, with finer subdivision on lower land to the east and south replaced by large land units on the plateau and to the west, provides strong evidence for the nature of those activities and the foci of the settlement sites it served.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric cairn cemetery on Shipman Head Down and the adjacent trough of Great Bottom on the north of Bryher in the Isles of Scilly. The scheduling also includes a later prehistoric field system which subdivides parts of the eastern and southern flanks of Shipman Head Down and rises to define larger areas on its plateau and western slopes. The prehistoric cemetery contains at least 148 funerary cairns over much of the Down's plateau and western slopes, extending north west across the trough of Great Bottom. Some localised patterning is apparent within this overall distribution, including linear groups along the crest of the Down's northern scarp and the eastern crest of the Down's plateau; a denser scatter of cairns in the overall spread extends onto the centre of the Down from behind Shipman Head Well on the west coast. Almost all are platform cairns whose rubble mounds, mostly 4m-8m in diameter, rise 0.2m-0.6m high to a flattened upper surface, the platform. Four exceptions, categorised as small round cairns on account of their shallow-domed profiles, may also have originated as platform cairns whose appearance has been affected by vegetation growth and stone robbing. In at least 111 cairns, the platform is defined by one of various types of slab-built kerb; some kerb slabs are in a continuous row but more frequently they are spaced apart, and they may be flat or edge-set, usually in the range 0.1m-0.4m high. Fourteen platform cairns abut or include large natural outcrops or boulders, forming a distinct subgroup strongly biased to the north of the cemetery where they account for seven of the ten cairns in Great Bottom; another three such cairns occur in the group along the Down's north crest and the other four are located behind the Down's west coast. Six cairns show good evidence for internal funerary structures. Three have a slab-built box-like structure called a cist, visible as a subrectangular hollow partly lined by edge-set slabs and with a north west-south east long axis; they range from 1.3m-3m long and 0.75m-1.1m wide and occur in well- separated cairns: one on the Down's northern scarp crest, another near the west coast behind Shipman Head Well and a third on the north west crest of the plateau's southern half. Three cairns show remains of larger funerary chambers: two on the southern crest of the Down and the third on a natural rise on the south of the Down's plateau. The westernmost on the southern crest is in much the largest cairn in the cemetery, almost 25m in diameter and 1.5m high, whose surface contains a large flat slab, 2.7m long, across the north east end of a 3.5m long hollow indicating a chamber partly disrupted by antiquarian excavation. A small kerbed cairn 100m to the ENE has a chamber at least 3.9m long, north-south, by 1.1m wide, defined along the sides and southern end by large edge-set slabs. The chamber in the cairn on the plateau's southern rise is visible as two rows of slabs running north east- south west across most of the cairn's 4.5m diameter platform and linked by a tilted covering slab 1.3m long. The prehistoric field system on Shipman Head Down is defined by turf-covered rubble banks, generally 1.5m wide and 0.2m high. Where the banks roughly follow the contour, on the Down's eastern and southern flanks, soil movement down the slope transforms them into substantial steps called lynchets. Several details show that the field system was created in a later prehistoric phase than the cemetery and that it deliberately slighted many cairns. The banks frequently pass along lines of cairns and sometimes alter course on cairns or deviate slightly in their alignment in order to meet rather than pass by a cairn. Where they cross cairns, banks often truncate one side of the cairn's mound, and sometimes form a distinct ridge across the mound surface. A common but not universal feature of the field system banks is their inclusion of closely-spaced large slabs, often edge-set and frequently 0.3m-0.5m high. A strong association exists between these large edge-set slabs and the points where banks pass across cairns, the slabs often grouped as distinct clusters at such locations, suggesting that the prominent slabs in the banks were drawn from the underlying cairns, and probably their kerbs, again showing deliberate slighting of the cairns and visually asserting the dominance of the field system's land use of the Down over that of the earlier cairn cemetery. The field system shows subdivision into areas of increasing size as it rises onto the Down's plateau and western slopes from lower levels on the east and south, defining areas of decreasing intensity of land use away from former settlement foci on lower land east and south of Shipman Head Down. At the lowest level, a coastal shelf at the south of the Down's east coast is crossed by three downslope banks 15m-20m apart, with a fourth bank across the slope at the south. This fine subdivision, truncated by the coastal cliff, is a survival of a low-lying prehistoric field system in the now submerged basin from Kitchen Porth to Hangman's Island. At a higher level, banks follow the east, south and south east crests of the Down's plateau, defining the upper boundaries of a zone of large prehistoric fields on the Down's flanks. The eastern upper boundary extends 320m north west-south east, crossing at least 21 cairns and terminating on outcrops at each end; two banks run ENE from it, dividing the eastern slope into three roughly 0.5ha blocks of usable land between areas of craggy outcrops. A lynchetted bank marks off the lower end of the northern block. A similar pattern, partly obscured by dense vegetation, is evident on the Down's southern flank, where banks of a lower level of plots also survive, truncated by modern enclosure to the south east. As the upper boundaries of the Down's east and south crests converge to the south east, they define between them a funnel-shaped area crossed north east-south west by the upper bank of two more fields on the south east slope, about 90m and 50m wide respectively. Beyond its flanks' upper boundaries, the Down is divided into three large areas. The eastern 1.3ha is defined on the west by a bank 50m-75m beyond the south east slope's upper boundary. From the midpoint of that bank, the rest of the Down's plateau and western slope is divided in two by another bank running WSW along the plateau crest south of Shipman Head Well. The field system also contains three other prehistoric features. The northern of the two fields on the south east slope contains an 8.5m line of spaced slabs between two cairns. Situated 40m to the south west in the same field is a circular stone setting, 5.75m in diameter, immediately adjacent to one of the cemetery's cairns and defined by ten spaced slabs, mostly lying flat. The third feature includes two short low rubble walls, about 18m apart, extending north east from two cairns over-ridden by the east flank's upper boundary. Beyond this scheduling, Castle Down, a similar upland area on the north of adjacent island of Tresco, also contains a large prehistoric cairn cemetery partly overlapped by multiple phases of prehistoric field system.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Sharpe, A, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Treryn Dinas: Cliff Castles Reconsidered, , Vol. 31, (1992), 65-68
Other
Parkes, C, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.16, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 and maplet for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7279.14, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7297.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.14, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.15, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.17, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.18, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.19, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.20, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.21, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.22, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.27, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.29, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7402.30, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7403, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.14, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.18, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.20, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.21, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.23, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.24, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7404.26, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7405.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7407.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7408.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7409.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7409.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7409.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7409.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.03, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.05, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.06, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.07, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.08, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.09, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.10, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.11, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.12, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.13, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.14, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.15, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.17, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.18, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.19, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.20, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.21, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.22, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.23, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.24, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.25, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.26, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.27, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.28, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.29, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.30, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.31, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.32, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.33, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.36, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.37, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.38, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.40, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7413.42, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7414.01, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7414.02, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR PRN 7648, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7362, 7362.01-.04, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR PRNs 7279, 7402-5, 7407-9, 7413-4, 7648, (1988)
Parkes, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR PRNs 7279,7362,7402-5,7407-9,7413-4,7648, (1988)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 81 NE and 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 81 NE and 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 81 NE Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 8715 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps; SV 8715 & SV 8815 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SV 87730 15684

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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