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Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber

bant's carn burial chamber entrance

Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber, Isles of Scilly

Dotted throughout the enchanted Isles of Scilly lie many ancient sites and mystical remains. For intrepid explorers who fancy discovering these far-flung islands’ archaeology and history, visiting atmospheric Bant’s Carn should be top of your list!

This little-known Neolithic burial chamber sits peacefully atop central St Mary’s island. Still wonderfully intact, it makes for a scenic historical adventure when discovering Scilly’s lesser seen sights.

inside bant's carn burial chamber

Getting There

First up you’ll need to embark on an Isles of Scilly adventure! Year-round helicopter flights and summer passenger ferries make the journey frequently from Penzance, Cornwall.

Once you arrive on St Mary’s, the largest island, Bant’s Carn can be found around one mile inland from bustling Hugh Town. It sits high up to the west of Old Town Bay accessed via the coastal path or minor roads.

While a fair uphill trek on foot, bikes can be hired if you fancy tackling it that way from Hugh Town, Old Town and beyond.

Opening Times & Tickets

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One of the best things about Bant’s Carn ancient monument is that it’s completely free to access and open to explore year-round!

Managed and maintained by English Heritage, they are able to keep the site free for visitors.

Visiting requires no tickets or tour guides either. As a peaceful site, it simply sits openly in a field for you to discover at your own pace.

Early morning or late afternoon visits often coincide with fewer other sightseers too for a more atmospheric experience.

bant's carn

About Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber


Consisting of a central chamber flanked by two lateral ones all covered by huge capstones, Bant’s Carn is considered one of Scilly’s finest surviving prehistoric sites.

The tomb is one of the best examples of a Scillonian entrance grave, surrounded by an outer platform and an inner cairn containing a slab-built chamber. The site also includes remains of an Iron Age settlement, Halangy Down, and a cemetery of small funerary chambers called cists from the Romano-British period.

The Isles of Scilly were extensively settled from around 2500 BC, and Bant’s Carn dates back to the middle Bronze Age, making it a significant historical site.The history of Bant’s Carn and Halangy Down reflects the extensive and permanent settlement on the Isles of Scilly from ancient times. The sea level rise over later prehistory transformed the landscape, and Bant’s Carn stands as a testament to the prehistoric communities that inhabited the area.

It was built around 2400-1500BC for ritual burials of locals from the first Scillonian communities. Excavations in 1838 uncovered pottery, flints and human bones from at least 8 people including children.

map of bant's carn

While less impressive than sites on mainland Britain, its remoteness and air of mystery enhance the experience! Wandering inside transports you right back 4000 years through farm fields little changed since its construction.

The site’s restoration in 1970 played an important part in preserving this historical heritage .Visiting Bant’s Carn offers a unique opportunity to explore a well-preserved Bronze Age burial chamber and the remains of an Iron Age settlement.

Click here for an interesting audio tour by English Heritage.

What to See & Do

Megalithic history buffs will enjoy reading the storyboards on site explaining excavations and precisely how it would have looked originally.

The remains create an evocative picture standing stone-like atop St Mary’s highest point. Visitors can walk inside the creepy central tomb to fully admire its scale and construction too.

Top highlights include:

  • Reading the information panels provided
  • Standing inside the atmospheric central chamber
  • Admiring how the huge capstones balance
  • Gazing out at Old Town Church’s spire
  • Letting your imagination run wild!
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Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed? – Yes, dogs are welcome at Bant’s Carn

Is it suitable for wheelchairs? – It is on a natural, muddy path with some climbing involved, so wheelchairs are very difficult at this site

Does it have a cafe or gift shop? – No, there are no facilities at this ancient site

Other places to visit near Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber

Near Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber on the Isles of Scilly, you can explore several attractions, including:

  • Tresco Abbey Gardens: A stunning garden with a diverse collection of subtropical plants, located on the nearby island of Tresco. The garden is home to species from 80 countries, creating an exotic and peaceful retreat for visitors
  • Old Blockhouse: An ancient defensive structure located on St. Mary’s, offering historical insights and panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  • Porth Hellick Down Ancient Burial Chamber: An ancient burial site with a rich history, providing a glimpse into the prehistoric heritage of the Isles of Scilly
  • Innisidgen Burial Chambers: Another set of ancient burial chambers located along the coast, offering a fascinating look into the Bronze Age history of the region
  • Garrison Walls: Historic walls that once served as a defensive structure, now offering a scenic location for a leisurely walk and panoramic views of the island
  • Isles of Scilly Museum: A place to discover more about the rich history of the archipelago, located in Hugh Town on St. Mary’s
  • St. Mary’s Riding Centre: Perfect for those who enjoy horseback riding, offering a unique way to explore the natural beauty of the island
  • Porthcressa Beach: A beautiful beach where you can relax and enjoy the stunning coastal scenery

Further reading

bant's carn by paul ashee

The book “Bant’s Carn, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly: An Entrance Grave Restored and Reconsidered” is an academic journal offprint from Cornish Archaeology, Volume 15, 1976. It provides a detailed exploration of the entrance grave, including restoration efforts and historical reconsideration

Buy Now

These attractions offer a diverse range of experiences, from historical and archaeological sites to natural beauty and outdoor activities, making the area around Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber a compelling destination for visitors.

Quintessentially remote and oozing intrigue, Bant’s Carn burial chamber encapsulates the magic and mystery of the far-flung Isles of Scilly beautifully. Just don’t disturb the ghosts of inhabitants past when you visit!

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