This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Prehistoric to Romano-British ritual, funerary and settlement remains on Par Beach, St Martin's

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 to Romano-British ritual, funerary and settlement remains on Par Beach, St Martin's

List entry Number: 1018116

Location

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

County:

District: Isles of Scilly

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: St. Martin's

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-Oct-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-1998

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15524

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.

The area of Par Beach in this scheduling contains a rich and varied survival of remains from the later Neolithic to the Romano-British period (from c.2500 BC to c.AD 400); their association with a sequence of buried soils and peats rich in early environmental data makes a major contribution to our knowledge of developing land use in such low lying terrain of the pre-submergence land-mass of Scilly and has provided a testing ground for sampling techniques designed to enhance this knowledge. The stone row, a form of ritual monument dating from the later Neolithic to early Bronze Age (c.2500 - 1500 BC), survives well as a rare example of this class of monument in the far south west of England and one of the earliest structural features known on Scilly. The scheduling also includes one of the few locations with extant remains of prehistoric or Romano-British cist burials wholly or largely preserved beneath present shore sand, the survival of examples partly excavated being confirmed by subsequent photography of the intact cist walling. The cists from these successive periods show the development of their distinctive burial structure while their proximity to broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems demonstrates the physical relationships between religious and domestic activity at this low level of the early landscape. Although affected by coastal erosion along the lower edge of the middle shore, the early land surfaces containing the extensive settlement and field system remains in this scheduling have been shown, by bore holes for environmental sampling, to survive intact beneath the deeper sand cover higher up the shore. There, the wide range and date of settlement features confirmed by excavation, including the only early example of smelted tin from Scilly, will be complemented by unusually good preservation of datable environmental evidence in the buried soils and peats, as analysis of their samples has demonstrated. The features of this scheduling are given wider relevance in understanding the organisation of the early landscape by their proximity to the broadly contemporary settlement and funerary remains at higher levels on eastern St Martin's and on the coast behind English Island Point.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric stone row and a grouping of prehistoric to Romano-British funerary and settlement remains, including field system walls, towards the centre of Par Beach, the shore fronting Higher Town Bay on the south coast of St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly. The stone row survives with three upright slabs, 1.3m-1.6m long, projecting from the middle shore sand and roughly equally spaced over 15m east-west near present Mean High Water level. The eastern slab is triangular, pointed at the top, while the western two are rectangular; the long axis of each is roughly in line with the overall row and each has weathered to give shallow vertical grooves on the main faces. Their visible height varies with seasonal changes in surrounding sand depth; under sand-scoured conditions in 1995 the tallest slab, at the east, was exposed 1.12m high and the shortest, at the west, was 0.75m high. A small pit dug for environmental sampling in 1990 beside the central slab revealed an early peat buried beneath the sand and adjacent to a possible packing stone for the slab. Prehistoric to Romano-British funerary remains are known from the western half of the scheduling, largely as a result of early observations and limited excavations during 1949 in an area of the middle shore since blanketted by deep sand. The excavations revealed three small box-like funerary structures, called cists, dug into an early land surface on the shore. One cist is 0.55m square internally, defined by a single edge-set slab on each side; a covering slab was displaced close by and the cist lay beneath remains of a rubble mound. Cists of similar size and construction occur in dry-land contexts on Scilly, with grave goods indicating a date in the 2nd millennium BC. The other two cists are rectangular, 1.4m by 0.9m and 1.8m by 0.6m internally respectively, each walled by both large and small slabs and accompanied by several former covering slabs; the larger cist was dug into the interior of an earlier, Iron Age, round house and retained its covering slabs in situ. These cists match the dominant Romano-British cist-grave burial custom known elsewhere on Scilly where they generally occur grouped in cemeteries. Other such cists, some with skeletal remains, were recorded in this vicinity on Par Beach by various observers from the later 18th to early 20th centuries; a setting of three small edge-set slabs, 95m WSW of the stone row, is arranged in two lines 1m apart, considered to be the upper exposed side slabs of another cist. The western half of the scheduling contains at least four early settlement sites on the middle shore, three examined by excavation in 1949-51 and now masked by shore sand, and a fourth visible in the mid-1990s. The excavations revealed three separate foci of rounded or ovoid houses, each with thick rubble walls faced by coursed and edge-set slabs. The earliest house, associated with fragments of Bronze Age pottery, was ovoid, 6m by 2.75m internally with a drain and sump in its floor and a slab-edged hearth. A later house, associated with typically Iron Age pottery, was 5.2m by 4.6m internally, paved around its wall's inner face and had a broad entrance facing south west; a setting of post holes around the centre was disrupted by the Romano-British cist-grave described above. The third excavated settlement focus included a round house 6.1m in diameter, its wall's inner face rendered with a mortar of local subsoil. On the clay floor was a central slab hollowed to support a post; nearby was a slab-edged hearth in which were fragments of Romano-British pottery and a small corroded ingot of tin. From 1m west of this house were at least two adjoining rubble-walled ancillary buildings: one had two almost straight walls converging on a 1m wide SSE gap blocked by a very large rectangular slab; to the south west, slighter walling defined an ovoid annexe associated with abundant evidence for burning. The fourth, unexcavated, settlement focus occurs 78m south west of the stone row, where large slabs up to 1.5m across form an almost complete circular arrangement 5.5m in diameter, considered to mark the upper walling of an early round house now infilled and surrounded by middle shore rubble. Situated 3m north of this round house, an exposed flat slab has a pecked central hollow, typical of the post-bases used in later prehistoric to Romano-British houses. Beyond these early settlement foci, traces of early field system boundaries have been recorded extensively on the middle shore throughout the scheduling and these are intermittently exposed when prevailing conditions reduce the sand cover on the old land surface into which the boundaries are set. The boundaries are visible as rubble walls containing both flat-laid and frequent edge-set slabs, commonly 0.25m-0.5m long and rising 0.3m high; the limited exposures of these walls generally show slightly curving courses, suggesting an aggregation of rounded field plots. Because the early land surface subdivided by this field system dips to the south at a far more gentle slope than the surface of the shore sand that masks most of it, the early land surface and its field system will survive beneath the increasing depth of sand from the middle to upper shore. This is confirmed by successive early soil and peat horizons which are exposed along the lower edge of the middle shore and which sampling boreholes have shown to survive intact at increasing depths beneath the sand from the middle to upper shore of Par Beach within and beyond this scheduling; analysis has shown these peats to range in date from the 5th millennium BC to the early 1st millennium AD. Nearby but beyond this scheduling, further prehistoric settlement and funerary remains survive extensively on the higher ground of eastern St Martin's and remains of a 2nd millennium BC settlement are located behind English Island Point at the eastern end of Par Beach.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ashbee, P, Ancient Scilly, (1974)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A CAU, Fieldwork in Scilly Autumn 1990, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J, Sharpe, A CAU, Fieldwork in Scilly Autumn 1990, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J , Straker, V, The Early Environment of Scilly, (1996)
Ratcliffe, J , Straker, V, The Early Environment of Scilly, (1996)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Isles of Scilly Survey, (1980)
Russell, V, Pool, P A S, Excavation of a Menhir at Try, Gulval, (1964)
Beagrie, N, 'From Cornwall to Caithness. Aspects of Brit Field Archaeology' in Excavations by Bryan and Helen O'Neil on the Isles of Scilly, (1989), 49-54
Beagrie, N, 'From Cornwall to Caithness. Aspects of Brit Field Archaeology' in Excavations by Bryan and Helen O'Neil on the Isles of Scilly, (1989), 49-54
Tylecote, R F, 'Cornish Archaeology' in The History of the Tin Industry in Cornwall, , Vol. 5, (1966), 30-33
Other
Butcher, S A, AM7 & scheduling maplet for SI 849, 1971,
Butcher, S A, AM7 and scheduling maplet for SI 849, 1971,
CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7706, (1991)
CAU, Scilly SMR entry PRN 7660, (1991)
Higher Town Bay, St Martin's, Fletcher, M/RCHME, RCHME Survey of sites in the inter-tidal zone - March 1997, (1997)
Ratcliffe, J & Parkes, C/CAU, Fieldwork in Scilly: September 1989, (1990)
Ratcliffe, J & Preston-Jones, A, Scilly SMR entry PRN 7705, (1991)
Ratcliffe, J/CAU, Scilly SMR entry for PRN 7758, (1995)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107 for Scilly SMR entry PRN 7149, (1988)
Thorpe, C/CAU, AM 107s for Scilly SMR entries PRN 7147, 7302, 7303, (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SV 9315 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SV 93299 15325

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.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1018116 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Nov-2017 at 08:55:53.

End of official listing