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Britain's Landscape Symbols and Mysteries: Carn Euny & Treryn Dinas

The final era of the stones was the Iron Age (600 - 43 BC). In this period as the population increased there was more of a shift to defensive structures such as hill forts and cliff castles. Examples of these are hill forts such as Trencrom and cliff castles like Treryn Dinas at Treen near Porthcurno. This is also the time many of the fogous where built, like that at Carn Euny near Sancreed

Carn Euny


The site was discovered in the early nineteenth century by tin prospectors and the fougou was exposed in the eighteen sixties by the antiquarian William Copeland Borlase. The nine hut foundations were discovered and the fougou restored during extensive excavations of the site between 1964 and 1972. The excavations show that the site was a hive of constant activity from the Neolithic period right up until the late Roman period, when the village was abandoned. Carn Euny, which is located near Sancreed on the Penwith peninsula, can be accessed at any time free of charge.

The earliest buildings at Carn Euny probably had earthen walls, these were replaced by wooden structures that were in turn replaced by stone roundhouses with thatch or sod roofs, and finally by the Courtyard Houses. Dating from the Iron Age, Courtyard Houses are unique to the SW peninsula, a compound is surrounded by a circular stone wall and stone buildings are positioned around the inner circumference with doorways opening into the central space. At Carn Euny, Courtyard House 1 has a special portal in the outer wall leading to the subterranean fogou.
It is important to note that when the first part of the fogou was built, it was the only stone structure at the site. This suggests that whatever the purpose of the fogou, it must have been of overwhelming importance to the community for them to expend so much of their resources on its construction.
The first stage of the fogou was the circular chamber and its entrance passage to the south. The dating of the phases of construction can only be approximate, but this initial stage is thought to have occurred about 500BC. The next stage was the construction of the fogou tunnel, thought to have commenced around 400BC. This new section runs off from the original entrance passage which was blocked, access to the complex was now via a small creepway passage at the western end of the new tunnel. The final phase of the fogou modification was during the construction of the Courtyard Houses around 50BC-100AD, the eastern end of the fogou was opened up and a pathway built to connect it with the compound of Courtyard House 1.
Today, the roofed section of the fogou is about 12.5m long and about 2m in height and width, the dry stone walls taper in toward the top, thus reducing the span of the roofslabs. The tunnel is now open at both ends, but the original northern creepway entrance has been blocked by a grille. The circular chamber is about 4.5m in diameter and is of corbelled construction, forming a beehive shape, it now has a modern metal roof. A niche, resembling a modern fireplace, has been built into the wall of the chamber opposite the entrance, its purpose is unknown.
The original function of fogous remains a mystery, although there are certain features that occur in many examples, there is little to suggest a probable use. At Carn Euny, the entrance creepway portal limits the size of objects entering by its 1m x 0.5m dimensions, why then build a long passage of such large section? Similar restrictions would have occurred at the Boleigh and Halligyye fogous with their capacious main passages and small entrance and intermediate portals. These enigmatic underground chambers, thousands of years old, have a powerful atmosphere even today, and as you stand in their silent dark interiors, you cannot help but wonder if their secrets will ever be revealed.


Treryn Dinas


A dramatic Iron Age cliff fort on a south-pointing headland between Porthcurno and Penberth in Cornwall.

The landward side is defended by three pairs of ramparts and ditches, and these are still impressive. The headland has a very narrow neck, and this is defended by a ditch and stone wall. Nearby are traces of roundhouses.

Coastal views from the cliff fort are outstanding.

Most visitors to ths granite headland come to see the "Logan Rock", an 80 tonne loganstone that was dislodged by a naval lieutenant in 1824 and subsequently replaced at great expense.

Access There is a small "Pay and display" car park at Treen (SW395230) and a clearly signposted path south across arable fields to the headland. Alternatively approach along the coastal footpath from Penberth or Porthcurno. Exploring the tip of the promontory around the Logan Rock will involve steep climbing, and could be dangerous during windy/wet weather because it is so exposed.

Note: Not to be confused with the similarly named Trereen Dinas cliff castle (near a different hamlet called Treen) on the northern coast of the Penwith peninsula near Zennor. 


The Logan Rock near the village of Treen in Cornwall

There is a cute story associated to the promontory. This is from ' Small People's Gardens' in Hunt's 'Popular Romances of the West of England

If the adventurous traveller who visits the Land's End district will go down as far as he can on the south-west side of the Logan Rock Cairn, and look over, he will see, in little sheltered places between the cairns, close down to the water's edge, beautifully green spots, with here and there some ferns and cliff-pinks. These are the gardens of the Small People, or, as they are called by the natives, Small Folk. [...] To prove that those lovely little creatures are no dream, I may quote the words of a native of St Levan:

"As I was saying, when I have been to sea close under the cliffs, of a fine summer's night, I have heard the sweetest of music, and seen hundreds of little lights moving about amongst what looked like flowers. Ay! and they are flowers too, for you may smell the sweet scent far out at sea. Indeed, I have heard many of the old men say, that they have smelt the sweet perfume, and heard the music from the fairy gardens of the Castle, when more than a mile from the shore."

Strangely enough, you can find no flowers but the sea-pinks in these lovely green places by day, yet they have been described by those who have seen them in the midsummer moonlight as being covered with flowers of every colour, all of them far more brilliant than any blossoms seen in any mortal garden  

Related Sources

http://www.megalithic.co.uk
http://www.cornwalls.co.uk
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