Settlements | Desirable Residences - Shining Land

Shining Land
The ancient sites of West Penwith, Cornwall
Palden Jenkins
Shining Land
Site nearly complete - organically growing
and what they tell us about megalithic civilisation
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Settlements | Desirable Residences

Picture Tour
During the neolithic and the first half of the bronze age people lived mostly in wooden structures. Later in the bronze age and in the iron age, stone was increasingly used - and this leaves traces of settlements for us to see today.

There are quite a few ancient settlements in Penwith, and here are some of them. Most come from the iron age and Romano-British period, between 500 BCE and CE 200. Some are older, from the late bronze age, around 1000 BCE. Two settlements are preserved - at Chysauster and Carn Euny - while others survive as piles of stones in fields or on moorlands. You can find the locations of many settlements on a map here.

When you visit settlements, sit down, relax and feel the place - you can get whiffs of the lives of people who lived and worked there two thousand or more years ago. You might find yourself sitting where one of them once sat.
Bodrifty ancient village
A pool near Bodrifty, and part of its village landscape - the kids will probably have played around it two millennia ago. Behind is Carn Galva, the axis mundi or magical centre of West Penwith
Signboard at Bodrifty iron age village. Click the pic to enlarge it
Bodrifty is a classic settlement, worth a visit. It lies under Carn Galva and the Nine Maidens, not far from Mulfra Quoit, and it has probably been occupied a long time. The visible village comes from the iron age. It has roundhuts, storage rooms, and an interesting big rock and pool.

Nearby is a quite large, reconstructed (1990s) iron age-style roundhut (ask permission to visit).
The reconstructed iron age roundhut at Bodrifty
Bodrifty. Was this once a bedroom or store room?
Carn Galva as seen from Bodfrifty
An interesting alignment of stones at Bodrifty, pointing at Little Galva, a carn just below Carn Galva. Click to enlarge
Bodrifty iron age village
Not far away is Bosporthennis (pr: Bosphrennis), one of the centres of activity in Penwith from the neolithic to the iron age ('Metro Penwith'). There are many different settlement remains here, including a rare beehive hut and a neolithic quoit.

Now quite isolated, the valley can be approached from the Zennor road or from the Nine Maidens stone circle.
Bosporthennis iron age settlement
Bosporthennis iron age settlement
Bosporthennis
Bosporthennis
Bosporthennis
Carn Euny
Carn Euny is a restored and excavated iron age village. It has seen activity since the neolithic. What we see today was built between 200 BCE and the 300s CE.

It has a rather unique fogou - possibly a women's sacred space with some added practical uses. It has two holy wells and is centrally located between Bartinney, Caer Brân and Chapel Carn Brea, not far from Boscawen-ûn. It was prosperous in its heyday.
Carn Euny
Carn Euny
Carn Euny
Carn Euny fogou
Chysauster courtyard village
Chysauster is a preserved settlement of the late iron age, open to the public (with charges and opening times).  It contains ten courtyard houses, mostly in two rows.

A courtyard house has a central covered or part-covered courtyard with a number of rooms and workshops around it - unique to Penwith and good for wind protection.
Chysauster courtyard village
Only a few settlements were placed where they were for geomantic reasons - setting, water sources, good land or a trackside location were important instead. Some settlements and roundhuts were there for other reasons than normal residence - such as a big roundhut at Tregeseal (probably for ceremonial uses), and the village at Lesingey Round (perhaps for healers, artisans or bards).
Chysauster
Chysauster
Goldherring
Goldherring
Goldherring has a workplace feeling: many buildings look like functional workshops and stores while only some seem residential. It  was occupied in three phases in the iron age, Roman period and early medieval times. Apparently the first occupants came from Brittany since items from there were found in the lower archaeological layers. Later on it seems to have been a forge, home and workplace for a specialist craftsman.
A pit, store or basin in one of the workshops at Goldherring
Goldherring
Goldherring
Bosullow Trehyllis lies at the foot of Chûn Castle, and the village served the hill-compound and its business in metals and craftwork, probably being home to artisans and those working at Chûn.

The village has many houses and a fogou. It lies by a track from Carn Galva, past Chûn, to Caer Brân, Boscawen-un and onward.
Bosullow Trehyllis
Bosullow Trehyllis
Bosullow Trehyllis
Lesingey Round has been home to a community of up to fifty people, and it has a long history from the neolithic to medieval times. Now it is overgrown with trees (worth visiting at bluebell time in spring). It might have been a specialist compound for particular people such as artisans, medicine people, midwives or druids. It is a major alignment centre - not a comfortable option for an ordinary village.
Botrea Settlement - the remains of a courtyard house
The remains of a roundhut (called a hut circle) at Sancreed
To find these sites on a detailed online map, click here:  Map of the Ancient Sites of West Penwith
There are many more settlements, hut circles and courtyard houses scattered around West Penwith.
You can find them on the online Map of Ancient Sites in West Penwith or on Ordnance Survey maps.

For more about settlements: Ancient Penwith | Settlements and Homesteads or see chapter 15 in Shining Land.

Shining Land
A book by Palden Jenkins about the ancient sites of West Penwith in Cornwall
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