Carn Euny Ancient Village, Cornwall


Iron Age house
Passage in the fogou

Remains of an Iron Age village, in use from 500 BC to 400 AD; nine circular stone houses, plus an underground passageway ('fogou') and chamber
Along a lane near Sancreed, 5 miles west of Penzance; TR20 8RB
Carn Euny is one of a number of Iron Age villages in Cornwall, the part of the country where such sites are most widespread. The settlement was established around 500 BC, though visible relics date from 100 BC and later, when a series of circular stone houses were built, replacing earlier timber structures, and occupied for around 500 years before being abandoned and subsequently lost to history until the 1840s, when the village was rediscovered by miners seeking tin deposits.

Excavations have since revealed at least nine houses plus other walls and stones, plus, most unusually, a stone-lined underground passageway known as a fogou, a structure unique to far west Cornwall, where around a dozen have been identified. The passageway links to a circular underground chamber, perhaps used for ceremonial purposes; both passage and room are intact, albeit partly restored, including installation of a concrete roof over the chamber.

The site is managed by English Heritage and there is no charge to enter. The village is located at the centre of Penwith, the westernmost part of Cornwall, on relatively high ground, 520 feet, in an area rich with archaeological sites, also including tumuli, standing stones, stone circles, hill forts, cairns and hut circles.


Carn Euny is reached by a narrow lane, approaching from the south, forking off the A30 near Catchall. English Heritage provide a small parking place, in a patch of woodland opposite a house, beyond which the road soon becomes unpaved. The village is a quarter of a mile north, reached on foot by two routes, usually combined to make a loop - either along a path through the trees then alongside two fields, or further along the road and east along a short track followed by an equally short path.

The Village

The village sits on gently sloping ground, south-facing, the views extending 5 miles and more, across the sea. At the west edge of the site are the rectangular walls from a two story cottage built around 1750 and occupied for only 50 years or so, as shown by analysis of pottery fragments, but all the other visible stones are from the original settlement. Excavations have revealed two structures from the early Iron Age (between 500 and 300 BC); a circular (timber) house, its foundations now only barely evident, and the underground stone chamber, linked to the fogou, which was built a little later, between 300 and 100 BC. The underground passageway is 65 feet long and may be entered at either end. All other relics are from the Romano-British period, up to 400 AD - there are nine houses, the largest 45 feet across. The southwestern corner of the village is yet to be excavated so there could well be another two or three houses here.