The fogou, an underground passage
whose purpose remains a mystery
Excavations on this site have shown that there was activity at Carn Euny as early as the Neolithic period, but the
first timber huts were built around 200 BC. By the first century before Christ, these had been replaced
by stone huts, the remains of which are visible today. The people who lived at Carn Euny were farmers,
stockbreeders, and possibly tin dealers.
The most impressive structure of the site is undoubtedly
the fogou (Cornish for cave), an artificial underground passage, usually running just below the
surface of the ground and roofed with massive stone slabs. Fogous have been found at various places
in Britain and Ireland, mainly near villages and fortifications, but their purpose remains a
mystery. They could have been used for storage, habitation, or ritual.
The Carn Euny fogou is a particularly well-preserved example. It consists of a passage about
20m (65ft) long, a side passage leading to an unusual circular stone-walled chamber (the domed roof of which
has collapsed), and a tiny creep-passage, possibly the emergency exit. Another fogou, but in a much
more ruined state, is near the Chysauster settlement.