The word Fogou (or Fogue or occasionally Fougou), derives from ‘fogo’ which is the Cornish word for cave. A fogou (pronounced “foo-goo”) is an underground structure which is found in many Iron Age defended settlements throughout northern Europe, particularly in Cornwall but also in parts of northern Scotland. Fogous are usually walled structures with slabs of stone forming the roof. No-one is exactly certain the purpose or purposes that Fogous served; it seems most likely that they were for storage and perhaps also served as refuges. It has also been suggested that they may have represented some ritual shrine.
Halliggye Fogou, on the Trelowarren estate, is generally accepted to be one of the largest and best preserved structures of the dozen or so that are known in Cornwall. It is associated with a small enclosed Iron Age enclosure and believed to date from the 4th or 5th century BC. Pottery finds (dating from Iron Age ‘cordoned ware’ to Samian ware) suggest the site was occupied for around 700 years (until the mid Roman period), with the entrance being re-modelled sometime around the middle of its active life. Interestingly, especially for Sub Brit members, the Fogou was used in World War II as an ammunition store by the Manaccan Auxiliary Unit.
The modern entrance was constructed during repair work carried out in 1980; a modern flight of stone steps leads down into the original 20m long sloping passage, orientated north-west to south-east which ends in a small ‘creep’ of reduced height, divided into two parts by a doorway framed by massive stone slabs.
The entrance section originally ended in a doorway, now blocked off, which opened into the ditch, and thus provided an alternative entrance/exit to the round. Towards the far end of this straight passage a long curving side passage runs westwards for 28m towards a short south facing creep which ends in bedrock. An ‘old’ entrance is visible in the south wall of this curving passage about halfway along its length. Both passages are over 2m high in places.
Halliggye Fogou is a Scheduled Monument and can be visited.