Exploring England #13
Many attractions in Cornwall, like the Eden Project and Land’s End, are well-known and easy to locate. Carn Euny Ancient Village is different. We only learned of its existence from a map of English Heritage sites. It’s free to visit; the only cost is the effort required to find this hidden gem. With no local knowledge, we relied on our GPS to show us the way.
After negotiating narrow Cornish lanes lined by tall hedgerows, the road ended abruptly at a small car park. A dilapidated sign was the only indication we were heading in the right direction. It was as if we were searching for a secret place, known by just a few.
We set off on foot on a wide track lined by green fields, where the local inhabitants watched in silence as we walked past. On the opposite side, the hedges were laden with fruit and tiny flowers.
Even though we saw a couple of homes tucked away behind high hedges, barking dogs were the only signs of life. The mystery deepened when the track ended, replaced by a narrow path leading down into a shaded wood.
We passed the remains of a old chapel and a sacred well dedicated to St Euny, almost hidden by a jumble of fallen stones.
We knew we must be close and, as suddenly as we had entered the wood, we were out in the open again. Before us was the ancient village of Carn Euny. The area was occupied from as early as 800 BC until around 400 AD, and the stone foundations visible today date from the 2nd century AD. An information board showed us how the settlement may have looked around 300 AD.
The structures were stone courtyard houses, built in a style unique to Cornwall. As we explored the site, we found the entrance to an underground passage.
The passage, known as a fogou, is one of just a few found only in this part of Cornwall. The purpose of the fogou and the large underground chamber to which it leads is unknown, although archaeologists think they may have been used for storage or religious ceremonies.
Standing inside the fogou, the sense of mystery enveloped us and we wondered about the people who once lived here. Even with our GPS and mobile phones we felt alone in this place. Would they have felt as isolated 1700 years ago as we did in the 21st century?
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