Took us an age to find.
One of the most beautifully placed monuments I've seen. Atop a hill looking out over vast swathes of glorious countryside; next to a lovely field of emerald green grass blowing in the wind. It is breathtaking. Sat for ages watching before even entering the fogou.
The fogou area is landscaped charmingly, a little grotto.
Picked my way very carefully down some very steep slippery steps. Exquisite stone walling entrance courtesy of the Victorians apparently. My pathetic torch was almost completely ineffective once inside. The rain began ripping it down outside;watching it from the entrance chamber was enthralling, diamond drops glittering in the breaking sunlight. Not so good for hop a long who was stuck outside, another broken hip not being worth the risk.
Ducked down to the left into the curving chamber, what a marvel this place is, standing upright once through the entrance. Chickened out at crawling through to the creep spaces. I felt transported here, almost dizzy with it.
Some striations on some of the stones. No litter, no offerings that I could see. Such fantastic construction.
Coming out from the dark into the light was very disorienting. Ferns frame the entrance.
The rain had stopped & the whole place was bathed in sunshine. The sky was dramatic, the clouds scudding along, the wind wild but not too cold. A place to mess with the mind, well mine at least. Dramatic & profound; exquisite & ageless.
We weren’t intending to visit any megalithic sites today, a thick sea fog blanketing everything in a damp muffling duvet of cloud when we awoke this morning in St. Just, but during a day spent in Falmouth the clouds finally burnt away leaving blue skies and blazing sunshine. So over a pint of Hobgoblin in ‘The Grapes’ a quick check of the TMA site on the phone (isn’t technology a wonderful thing!) produced a list of nearby candidates for a visit.
By far the most promising was Halliggye, somewhere I’ve never been before, and an impressive looking site to boot. So setting course for Garras on the B3293 we soon managed to find the Trelowarren estate and driving up the main drive (beware of the stealth humps though, which nearly ripped my car’s exhaust off!) soon the information board and layby appeared. It’s then only a short walk to the lovely enclosure surrounding the modern steps which lead down into the fogou.
As soon as we stepped inside we could tell this one was going to be something special. Ducking down to get through the entranceway, the passage soon rises enough to just about stand upright, and the feeble glow of my torch, desperately in need of some new batteries, struggles to illuminate the end of the corridor. Inching my way along due to the uneven floor, a long curved passageway soon opens up to the left, and I’m straight down it like a rat up a drainpipe.
The curve of the walls is disorientating as you carry on walking, the corridor seemingly wending its way into the depths of the underworld. It reminded me of the Tumulus de Rocher in Brittany, which had a similarly long and winding interior passage. Like Carl mentions in his fieldnotes, the stygian gloom of the surrounding darkness seems to suck the very light from my torch as I proceed, and only Ellen bringing up the rear with the light from her phone helps to penetrate the dimness.
Soon we reach the ‘stumbling block’ a raised stone ridge protruding from the floor, which marks the passage’s end, and I shuffle forward, crouched over, down the southern creep to the end of the fogou. Here I sit, Ellen waiting in the corridor nearby, and we turn off our lights. The darkness is all consuming. Total blackness surrounds you, and the atmosphere of the place becomes even more tactile. I become very aware of the sounds of my own breathing, and nearby an occasional squeaking sound, possibly from the bats that often roost here. I was expecting a damp, dank place, but it’s nothing like it. I can smell a faint but lingering scent of incense, then overlaid by a subtle lilac fragrance, and through the darkness I become more aware of all my other senses. If ever anyone needed help in practising mindfulness this is the place to come, something about it is affecting, sharpening your awareness of your place in this place, only the here and now seemingly existing as you float in the comforting darkness which surrounds you.
After maybe minutes or maybe hours, it’s hard to tell, the pinpricks of our torches come back on and we head back toward the entrance. Before leaving I wedge myself into the smallest northern creep, toward the original entrance to the fogou. It’s tiny but I can just squeeze in, although so wedged I fear I’ll ever get out! Happily after a bit of scrabbling I manage to ease myself back into the more spacious passageway, where we take more photos, before reluctantly taking out leave.
Although there is a suggestion fogou’s may have had a purpose as a place of storage this just doesn’t make sense to me, why construct such an elaborate and impractical cellar? I imagine it would be one hell of a hassle for an Iron Age farmer having to nip down the creep each time they wanted to retrieve an item! Visiting Halligye just strengthens my view that there was more likely some form of ritual purpose involved, seeing how an experience of the fogou can affect you psychologically I can only imagine the impact it would have had on people in that long ago culture.
Well I might have gone on a bit about this place, but it’s just that I haven’t been so blown away by a site visit for some time. There’s certainly a power here, and even for those less enamoured with the mystical mumbo jumbo a visit to Halliggye provides you with possibly the finest example of a fogou you could wish to see, so it’s a definite must visit.
Visited on 21st July 2011.
We parked at the English Heritage car park just off the road. It's more of a lay by really but has two EH info boards with photos, information and artists impressions of how the Fogou may have fitted into a larger settlement.
My first visit inside was with my two year old Daughter, she loved the walk up across the field and on approaching the Fogou started shouting Macca Paccas house, Macca Paccas house! On entering she just wanted to run off into the creep passage and was really excited by the place. My nerve wasn't quite as strong as hers though so that was the end of her adventure for this time, and so back to the car and to Mum and little brother for her!
On my second visit I stayed much longer and really got to take in the vibe of the place. As written here earlier the dark is all consuming, my torch almost extinguished by pure and total darkness.
I explored all the passage ways alone and in almost complete silence, my breathing at first fast and loud as I climbed in through the small creep passages. Once I'd settled down a little though I could really start to take in the place. So torch off, sitting on the stumbling stone, time for a meditation on the place. On opening my eyes there was no difference than having them closed. Pitch black. Then I started to make sense of the layout and curve to the passages, not exactly but if I followed the lines of the curve I could see it worked. It was more like curved straight lines in the center that I could see that led me back to the main passage way. A strange phenomenon. A powerful place this Fogou.
Easy to find. Take the turning signposted Trelowarren Estate (off B3293) and follow the lane over the bridge and up through the trees to the top of the hill. There is a small car park on the right with an E.H. information sign. Follow the path from the car park up the hill and the fogou is on your right - WOW!! This has to be the best of the fogous I visited in my week in Cornwall. This is FANTASTIC. Prepare to get wet, muddy and most of all astounded by this amazing place. Don't forget to take a torch - the bigger the better. The light from my small torch seemed to be 'absorbed' by the darkness and until my eyes started to adjust I couldn't see a thing!
Site is open Easter to 30th September.
Please, please try to visit this place - simply wonderful.
It' s clearly marked on the roadmap, but a reet bugger to find the access to. All the access roads to the Trelowarren estate said "No Entry" and we were on the verge of giving up when we stumbled across the main entrance back at the Garras end. Halligye fogou is clearly signposted once you're in. But we were to be disappointed. It was already dusk and although we found the fogou, a padlocked metal gate barred our entry to the main passageway. But the approach itself is impressive: great keyhole-shaped slit in the earth, (Moth said he thought it looked like something specific to women, but I can't repeat what here!) recently shored up with new walling and steps. But the fogou's locked chastity belt prohibited us from further investigation.
Allowing our eyes to become accustomed to the blackness, we could just make our the creep at the end of the passage. I fear we missed something special here :-(
Amazing. Without having seen all the other fogous, this and the Carn Euny fogou must be the cream of the crop. Everyone should see this. Everyone! Despite the changes over time (the current entrance is believed to be wrong, and a hole now exists in the main passageway thus letting in light) this is still in very good condition, and with public access for much of the year. I felt the hole might be deliberate to let light into the main passage and make it safer to be in. Just a total guess though.
It wasn't clear from the OS map exactly where the entrance to the Trelowarren Estate was, so it was a good surprise to see a brown (tourist) sign at the roundabout linking Garras, Mawgan and Rosevear (at SW701243). The turn off to the estate is then marked by a bright modern sign a few hundred metres towards Garras, with the actual estate entrance another 400 metres on at SW705242. After 1km through the estate there is a sign to the fogou and parking for 3-4 cars at SW713241. A short walk up the track takes you to the gates of Halliggye Farm. A marked footpath to the right takes you into an enclosure and you are there, at this amazing structure.
I went in every bit of the fogou, including the tiny original entrance, which I felt was the most stunningly claustrophobic and well engineered. The whole place is just great. Feel the quality of the workmanship.
But the fogou didn't want its picture taken. Not only was the rain getting heavy now, but I managed to smash my old compact camera on the way out by getting tangled in its strap and accidentally thrashing it about. I'd taken pics with this because it had a flash, whereas my Pentax SLR didn't. So to try to re-create the now lost pics I went back and took pics again with the Pentax on a fixed shutter speed and trying to use the flash from the compact as a flash. It didn't work!
NB - The entrance to the estate had a sign saying that all permissive footpaths on the estate were closed between 1st October and ..um...didn't write the end date down (probably around Easter - I was too busy slapping my head and shouting doh at coming on 1st October!). Despite my fears it didn't affect me getting to the fogou and I imagine it shouldn't cause any problems for others because the fogou is an English Heritage site, and up a farm track rather than a footpath. Also the fogou is closed for the winter anyway (currently November to March inclusive).
Visited in June 2002.
Part of the cealing of the first creep on the left has now collapsed (you can see into someones garden). Around the whole is a view straight out of Indiana Jones - HUGE spiders with cocoons. The cealing and walls look as if they are moving! Moving on past this you come to a dead end with a big (alter?) stone and a small creep leading to a small chamber on the left (just big enough for 2-3 people). Further back, the creep oposite the entrance can only be accessed on your belly. Follow this down a short way and you come to a large chamber which is bricked up at the far end.
This place is fantastic!
NB: there is a notice at the entrance warning that the fogou is used by bats (i.e. protected)
You know all that dungeons and dragons stuff? Well this could be fogous and ferpents. This place is huge. I thought it would go on for ever, like sum kind of Khazad-dum. Unfortunatly there's a new set of metal braces holding up the roof near the entrance, but don't let that put you off. A must, must.
This fogou no longer needs a map to locate, standing in the grounds of Trelowarren and incorporated in their 'Woodland Walk' (just pick up a leaflet at the Nursery). It is none the less magnificent for this though.
The entrance is now restored and provides a wonderful entry to the fogou. The creep to the left is accessed by a small entrance but inside is tall and leads to a large stone at the end that had been recently used as an altar for offerings. The main creep is tiny with an entrance that requires you to get on hands and knees to access the small chamber beyond.
We spent some time here. I am still perturbed by the photo of me in the creep in which a leaflet sticking out of my pocket looks as though I have a skull in my hand.
In the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (publ 1886) - twenty pages of Victorian descriptions and drawings.
I was pleased to read (p301) that "Although difficult of entrance most of the company (including some of the ladies) scrambled into it, and made an inspection of it." Not bad considering you'd imagine women to be encumbered by what they were wearing in those days. And it sounds rather spooky. The description on p246 seems to show a thinly disguised horror of rats, heavy atmosphere, dankness, and a 'thick dark fog', not to mention the ankle-breakers on the floor.