Platform cairn on Turfy Hill, St Martin's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018114

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1998


Ordnance survey map of Platform cairn on Turfy Hill, St Martin's
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This copy shows the entry on 11-Dec-2018 at 16:27:29.


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 93072 16002


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 large platform cairn on Turfy Hill survives substantially intact and despite some limited antiquarian activity its form remains clear and well-defined. Its siting on the headland summit and its relationship with the other similarly sited funerary cairns along the island demonstrate well the important influence of landforms in the organisation of prehistoric funerary and ritual activity.


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


The monument includes a large prehistoric funerary cairn situated on the summit of Turfy Hill, a rounded headland on the north coast of St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly. The platform cairn is visible as a circular mound 16.5m in diameter, rising 1m to a well-defined upper platform 10m in diameter. On the WSW edge of the platform is an upright slab 0.75m high. The platform surface is generally flattened with several shallow hollows resulting from unrecorded antiquarian excavation. This platform cairn is one of several prehistoric cairns which, beyond this scheduling, occupy high points along St Martin's culminating in larger cairn cemeteries on the downland at each end of the island.

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: 15522

Legacy System: RSM


Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7128, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map SV 9315 and 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SV 91 NW Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing