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HALLIGGYE FOGOU

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Halliggye Fogou is an Iron Age underground chamber that is believed to have been constructed in around the 4th and 5th century BC and was in use until at least the 2nd century AD. Fogous, from the Cornish word 'ogo' meaning cave, are found only in the far west of Cornwall. Their original function is unclear. They may have been used to store valuables, or as refuges. Fogous could also have been places of ceremony and ritual. Halliggye Fogou is situated within an earthwork enclosing a settlement, possibly a defended Iron Age homestead on the Trelowarren Estate. It lies partly beneath a high plateau bounded by an embankment and runs beneath two enclosures (fields) at different levels. The fogou is a large complex example of its type constructed of drystone walling and capstones. It comprises a north to south orientated 20 metre long stone-lined chamber with a 28 metres long curvilinear passage branching westwards and culminating in a small side chamber. Both are over 2 metres high in places. The present-day entrance was constructed during repair work in 1980 at the south east end of the 20 metre chamber and has modern steps leading down. The chamber ends in a small 'creep' of reduced height, which is divided by a doorway of large stone slabs. This section originally ended in a doorway opening out into a ditch as an alternative entrance. However, this was blocked off at a later date. There was also a 19th century entrance, now blocked, half way along the 28 metre curved passage. Reverend Richard Polwhele recorded the fogou in detail in 1803. In 1861, J. T. Blight wrote a comprehensive description and drafted plans of the fogou in conjunction with Sir Richard Vyvyan (the landowner) who listed finds of a vase containing ashes and a roughly made cup, both of Celtic manufacture, and animal bones possibly from a deer. It was used during the Second World War by the Manaccan Auxiliary Unit as an explosives and ammunition store. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

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