Wells and Fogous are very different kinds of sites but they both draw people down into the dark and the mystery, into a state of interiority - a very different feeling to hilltops and wide-open spaces. The ancients practiced a kind of consciousness engineering, creating sites that induced different states. But then, so too do modern builders of art galleries, churches or monumental buildings.
The purpose of fogous, built in the iron age, often inside or close to iron age settlements, remains something of a mystery and it remains a jury-is-out question. But there are theories. Problem is, few remains have been found inside fogous to give clues.
Springs and wells go right back, some as long as people have been here, serving not only as reliable fresh water sources but also providing something very healing, sacred and blessed in their waters. However, nowadays, when people bottle springwater or pipe it through plastic or metal pipes, it loses a lot of its vim and vigour quite quickly, since it is the manner of movement of water that creates much of the subtle energy in it.
Springs and holy wells are not only good as water sources. There's something special about their waters and atmosphere, in their subtle negative-ionic energy-charges. They can be uplifting and therapeutic. All holy wells have their own character and feeling. Some are ancient, some medieval and some relatively modern.
St Euny's Well, near Carn Euny ancient village
St Euny's Well, near Carn Euny iron age settlement.
Phosphorescent Schistostega plants at Sancreed Beacon. These plants grow only in the special kind of negative-ion and energy-charged conditions present at wells and similar places.
St Euny's Well, near Carn Euny. In between Chapel Carn Brea, Bartinney Castle and Caer Brân, it served all three hills as an ancient well
Clouties at St Euny's Well
Clouties at Madron Well
It's well-meaning and nice to leave clouties at holy wells, but please tie them loosely to give the tree room to grow, and please use only organic, biodegradable materials for offerings.
During periodic CASPN clear-ups, many of these offerings have to be removed, especially artificial-fibre or unsightly ones, to help the trees and maintain the atmosphere at the well.
The well on the summit of Bartinney Castle. It still occasionally has water today, but deforestation downslope has affected the water table and temperatures in the earth, affecting these springs and the capacity of water to rise up.
Mysterious hilltop wells. These can be found at Bartinney Castle, Trencrom Hill, Chûn Castle and under the castle on St Michael's Mount.
But how does the water rise up to the top? This is explained in Shining Land. Water, under certain conditions that the ancients understood, can defy gravity through suction. On a warm day, a big old tree can raise tons of water through its trunk.
The well just below the summit of Trencrom Hill, a multi-period neolithic tor enclosure and iron age hill camp.
A wee spring at Botrea. Not exactly a holy well, it nevertheless sits below Bosence Chapel, an early-medieval Christian oratory, and it probably supplied water to the hermit at the chapel.
St Levan's Well at Chapel Porth
St Levan's Well at Porth Chapel, just below St Levan's church.
The Baptistry near Madron Well (which is more hidden in the woods)
The approach to Madron Well.
Phosphorescent plants growing in Sancreed Well.
Usually located in prehistoric settlements, these were possibly places for women's rites, initiations, retreats, or even for dying. They might have had some practical uses that were nevertheless sacred, including brewing, treatment of foods and medicines or storage of valuables. Their purpose remains a mystery.
Inside the fogou at Pendeen Vau - this part is called a creep. Not for people who get the heebeejeebies!
The fogou at Pendeen Vau (ask at the farm for access permission).
Inside the fogou at Pendeen Vau - looking up toward the entrance. The tunnel slopes down quite a lot.
The fogou at Pendeen Vau - it's in a farmyard, strangely. The great 18th C antiquarian Borlase once lived in the nearby big house.
Lower Boscaswell Fogou - looking in.
Lower Boscaswell Fogou
Lower Boscaswell Fogou - looking out.
Fogous have a very special character. Many are now destroyed or they have disappeared. Those that survive can be calm and quite energy-charged. Go and sit inside quietly and imbibe the atmosphere.
They were built in the iron age. They're a little like bronze age chambered cairns, except they're usually located inside iron age villages. No records of their use remain.
Carn Euny fogou
The fogou at Carn Euny - quite big, this one, with a unique round chamber inside that's likely older than the rest of the fogou.
Inside the circular cell in Carn Euny fogou. It's dark and dank because it has been restored by archaeologists who don't understand energy-chambers, but it probably wasn't like that in ancient times
The stonework inside the fogou. Phosphorescent plants grow on the stones - they like damp, dim, energy-charged places. Apparently the natural radioactivity inside fogous is quite high.
Looking out of Carn Euny fogou