Historic Past




Courtyard Houses


Hill Forts

Promontory Forts


Stone Circles

Standing Stones

Holed Stones

Inscribed Stones

Site Location

Prehistory Links

Fogou, the name is derived from the Cornish for cave. Fogous are only found in Cornwall and in particular only the south west tip of the county. Fogous are underground structures whose construction varies. The design varies but they all have a long passage. A number of them have chambers leading off the passage, like that at Carn Euny.

What fogous were used for is not known. Fogou construction obviously took immense effort, so its function must have been of extreme importance to the builders.

They could have been a defensive structures, as to access the fogou one had first to enter through a low passage (under a metre in height ). Attackers would have to crawl through (difficult to swing their weapons) to meet defenders who had no such restriction. Fogous with a chamber and their own low passage entrance, provided a fall back position into the chamber, again with the same advantage.

Fogous may have been easily defended positions, however the defenders would be stuck underground with nowhere to go. Another function could be ritual. Whatever ever the purpose it is doubtful whether it will ever be discovered, instead lead to continual discussion.

Fogous where built as far back as 500 BC and some like the one at Carn Euny may have been used up to when the Romans left Britain around 400 AD.


Carn Euny  SW402288

The fogou has a circular underground chamber. To access this chamber one had first to enter through a low passage (under a metre in height) which itself led to a underground sixty foot long passage (one could easily stand). This passage is roofed with large stones i.e. corbelled. To finally enter the circular chamber there was another low passage (under a metre in height).


Plan of Carn Euny Fogou


Underground passage Carn Euny

Low entrance passage into circular chamber.



Long Curving Passage (Standing Height)

Low Passage Into Circular Chamber



Original entrance to the fogou, to the right of a current entrance

Circular Chamber With Recess Set In Wall



Original Entrance

Circular Chamber With Recess Set In Wall