Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Fogou 70m west of Higher Bodinnar

A Scheduled Monument in Sancreed, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1343 / 50°8'3"N

Longitude: -5.6186 / 5°37'6"W

OS Eastings: 141507.156437

OS Northings: 32298.853461

OS Grid: SW415322

Mapcode National: GBR DXHB.C5W

Mapcode Global: VH058.KWJD

Entry Name: Fogou 70m west of Higher Bodinnar

Scheduled Date: 8 June 1970

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004290

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 756

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Sancreed

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Sancreed

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a fogou, situated on the upper south eastern slopes of Boswens Common. The fogou, known locally as 'Giant's Holt Fogou', survives as buried features, deposits and structures. The main chamber measures up to 18m long with a possible smaller chamber leading off from it at right angles and visible as a trench on the surface. The fogou once formed part of a courtyard house settlement and field system but this is no longer extant. The settlement was drawn by Thomas Tonkin in the early-18th century. In 1738 Borlase visited it and recorded entering a hole, faced on each side with stone and covered with flat slabs. He recorded that the chamber had collapsed in many places but seemed to branch beyond where he could reach. By 1842 Revd Buller recorded that the fogou had been destroyed, and in 1871 the settlement had been largely removed and the stone had been used for hedges. Partial excavation of the settlement produced burnt earth and ashes, pebbles and some Roman copper coins.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-1340567

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fogous are underground passages up to 30m long and 2m wide, usually with side passages and/or chambers. The passages' drystone walls were initially built in a trench, roofed with flat slabs, and covered by earth. Fogous date to the Iron Age and continued in use into the Roman period although there is little evidence for the initial construction of any after the end of the Iron Age. Approximately 12 fogous are known to have surviving remains, their national distribution being restricted to the far west of Cornwall, in West Penwith and around the upper Helford River. They are often associated with courtyard house settlements and with various forms of contemporary settlement sites including rounds and hillforts. The original functions of fogous are not fully understood; safe refuges, entrances, storage areas and ritual shrines have been proposed as possibilities, with particular emphasis on the refuge theory. They form an extremely rare and distinctive class of monument and are important sources of information on the unique nature and pattern of settlement that developed during the Iron Age and Roman periods in south west England.
Despite its apparent collapse, the fogou 70m west of Higher Bodinnar will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, longevity, social organisation, territorial significance, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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