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Boleigh

Fogou

<b>Boleigh</b>Posted by postmanImage © Chris Bickerton
Also known as:
  • Bolleit
  • Trewoofe

Nearest Town:Newlyn (4km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   SW438252 / Sheet: 203
Latitude:50° 4' 15.5" N
Longitude:   5° 34' 51.22" W


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Fieldnotes

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I first tried to get a look at Boleigh Fogou last year in 2018, and like Carl I tried the phone number numerous times but got no joy. So me and Eric tried to sneak in, from two different directions, but without knowing exactly where the fogou is we failed miserably and gave up. Disappointed.

July 2019 and we're back for round two, obviously sneaking isn't going to get us anywhere, so the only other option is a frontal assault, straight up the driveway, they wont be expecting that.
Parking was obtained on the B3315 there is a little muddy layby just east of the entrance to Rosemerryn house. Walked back up the road to the driveway entrance and engaged in the assault. But we came upon the first defenses all too soon, a hand written sign asking people who want to see the fogou to please ring this number. Canny Rosemerryn inhabitants.
I got me phone out and looked through my contacts and lo and behold the number on the sign was the same number I'd tried last year. So with the faintest of sighs and the fastest of vanishing hopes I rang the number. It was to my amazement that it was answered almost immediately, I told the chap on the phone that I was half way up his driveway by a sign asking me to ring, and can we have a look at your fogou please?
The man from Boleigh, he say Yes!

We walked on down the driveway and met him by the house, he said hello and thanked me for ringing, he did point out that we should've rang further in advance, and I said we didn't know about ringing at all, and have come seeking fogou's out of the blue. A lie, and I'm sorry, but only a white lie to keep his sensibilities intact. Anyway, all was good and he showed us the way, only a minute later and we're at the entrance to Fogou.
When he left us to it and went about his business we had it all to ourselves, I've wanted to come here for twenty years at least, but saved it til last because of difficulties getting to it, of all the surviving get into-able fogous this is the last one, and I'm finally here, I was so excited I could pop, goosebumps, shortness of breath, dizzyness, I'd better get in before I faint.
As soon as your in, the creep entrance is immediately left, I walk past it to the far end of the Fogou, it is open, and looks to be an old break in point, stone is missing and it is all open. Back to the entrance and I have a look through the portal stones of the creep entrance and go through. Straight away a stone is on the floor right below a gap in the roof where some corrugated sheet metal now does the job of opposing collapse. Getting past the fallen stone the creep ends quite quickly. Lights off sit quietly. After a while I emerge back into the world, Eric is still looking at his phone, he cant have internet here surely. I have a look at the broken back end and then the bloke is back and he's brought his dog and cat with him. we stand around talking for a while, what's it for, we both agreed on some ritual purpose. He mentioned time team were here, and I remembered the episode he was talking about, they were digging a ruined fogou elsewhere but they wanted a more intact individual so they came here, with a dowser, I remember Professor Mick wasn't impressed.

The Rosemerryn man was not going away now so I took a hint and said thank you very very much but we must go now, he lead us away through the woods, across a lawn (that was as far as we got last time) through more woods (been here before) and with in sight of the car. Bang, Boleigh done, I can excise it from my obsessive mind. I'll probably be back in these parts again at least once and i'll go have a look at Lower Boscaswell Fogou, but really I feel I've done fogous now and I can turn my attention else where, Brochs maybe, I haven't seen enough Brochs.
postman Posted by postman
4th August 2019ce
Edited 4th August 2019ce

Tried to visit 12.4.10.
The one that got away!
On my week exploring Cornwall I had made a list of sites I wanted to visit. I am pleased to say I hit all targets - except this one.
I thought I would chance my arm and just turn up and ask permission to see the site. However, when I arrived there was no one about and although there looked like there were people at home I got no answer when I knocked on the doors of the holiday homes. I telephoned the number given to ask permission but all I got was the answer phone. The Fogou was not obvious and I couldn't see it amoungst the trees. As I didn't fancy getting 'caught' trespassing. I decided to leave and telephone the next day. Despite several calls all I got was the answer phone, so I am afraid I never did see the fogou.
Posted by CARL
21st April 2010ce

Visited the fogou 9th June 2004.
(rewritten 23/06/04 cos I was half asleep first time!)

What a lovely place!

I was a bit nervous of this place after all I'd read about the odd happenings here, but found it to be a very peaceful place. We'd meant to visit many times but ALWAYS forgot to call ahead or bring the phone number with us (had to call Moth for it this time!)

The setting is very beautiful - I found it strange to think there was a house close by cos it just felt so secluded!

I find fogous odd anyway (I'm sure I'm not alone here!) - I start off full of beans, happily exploring and snapping away with the camera (normally just so I can see where I'm going! The torch normally gets swallowed up into the darkness...) and feeling like this is just a man-made hole in the ground... Then, unexpectedly, I get a shiver, and have felt quite scared (at Halligye I fair shat meself after about half an hour of feeling fine!)

So what is it with fogous? Boleigh is very beautiful, and very peaceful, as mentioned above, and is not exactly in the middle of nowhere...

I loved it here - it felt like I was in a time machine... I thought I was there for about 10 minutes, but emerged from the hole in the ground over an hour later!

Rob and (I'm so sorry I didn't catch your name!) his wife/partner (sorry again!) were absolutely lovely. Very welcoming indeed. The house itself is amazing, and some rooms are being let for a really relaxing B&B style holiday, along with a HUGE cottage that sleeps around 6!!! (Check out http://www.rosemerrynwood.co.uk/ for more info)

We shall definately return to Boleigh - not just for the fogou, but to spend the week (or 2) - maybe I'll even pluck up the courage to explore the fogou at night - wooo! Big chicken... ;o)
goffik Posted by goffik
21st June 2004ce
Edited 23rd June 2004ce

It was pouring with rain outside, so the shelter of Boleigh's gaping dark mouth, moustached by moss and ferns and liverworts seemed rather attractive. The fogou is tall, 7 or 8 feet in places and about 9 metres long, perhaps more and beautifully corbelled. The creep leads off immediately to the left as you enter the fogou. I could just squeeze my child-bearing hips through the crack and I found the creep not only almost doubles back on itself, but rises to virtually ground level.

I loved it here! I felt so protected and quite happy. Not freaked at all.
Jane Posted by Jane
15th March 2004ce
Edited 15th March 2004ce

We'd arrived at the site unannounced, not remembering (must do my research properly) it was necessary to make an appointment before hand. Jo May's daughter was just on her way out as we drove down the track leading to the house, and so she asked if she could help us. We told her we intended to visit the fogou, and she let us know (in the nicest possible way) that we should really have booked in advance. She said it'd be okay this time though, as there was no activity taking place in the Caer centre, and proceeded to lead us to the fog

Sat before the entrance, I fixed my gaze on it's depths and struggled to see far into the passage at all - the darkness has to be seen to be believed. Life teemed all around the mouth of this 'cave', bees and butterflies fluttered round the bluebells growing on it's banks. Up above in the trees was the noisiest display of ravens I've ever heard. It was pretty easy to start to imagine this was all part of the magick of this site.

This is a real class site, and has made me totally reassess not only fogous, but my entire psychological relationship with all sacred sites. Fantastic.
IronMan Posted by IronMan
11th May 2003ce
Edited 7th August 2019ce

Well I arrived on a hot sunny morning, shorts, sandals etc., oh what a mistake! The fogou was no trouble to find, most of the surrounding trees and foliage has been cut down and removed (this can only have been done to allow more sunlight onto the ground to dry up the soilwork surrounding the fogou to prevent any further collapse), well in I stomped, straight to the back of the main tunnel and straight into a watery swamp! Not as big as Halligey Fogou I must say but such a nice feeling in here! More natural daylight manages to penetrate inside too. Well into the creep I crawled, over the large rock on the floor and left into the small chamber, sat myself down and opted for a quick meditation. Well, that led me into a state of semi trance... I'm not sure of what the knocking sounds were that echoed from the walls that surrounded me, nor was I sure of the presence I felt within the chamber, it was nice though! Not at any point did I feel like grabbing my sandals and making a run for it, I stayed put and carried on......Spriggans?? Piskies?? Who knows, eh?

Well dont just turn up and expect to be allowed to visit this litttle gem. It's by appointment only and only if its convenient to the land owner. worth the wait though, I'd say... set in typical wild "Cornish jungle".
paul1970 Posted by paul1970
16th July 2002ce
Edited 13th February 2003ce

Folklore

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Of the Bolleit cave it is said that the roof will fall in and crush any one who remains there more than a certain number of minutes.
Just to cheer you up if you're visiting. From Churches of West Cornwall by J T Blight (1885).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th April 2013ce

[A mysterious cavern] at Bolleit, in the parish of Buryan, which was so large and perfect in the time of the Great Rebellion, that Cavaliers were for some time concealed there; where, like the prophets of old, they were fed by Mr. Levellis of Trewoof, until opportunity offered for them to return to the King's army.
From the second series, volume 4 of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London (1868).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st April 2013ce
Edited 21st April 2013ce

About a furlong south-west of Trove, but on a tenement of Boleigh, is the Fuggo. It consists of a cave about six feet high, five feet wide and near forty long, faced on each side with rough stones, across which long stone posts are laid. On its north-west side a narrow passage leads into another cave of similar construction and unknown extent; as it has long been blocked up by a portion of the roof having fallen in. One may be pretty sure, however, that much of the stories about its great length are fabulous. They say that it extends from its entrance, at the foot of Boleigh hill, to the old mansion at Trove; in proof of this the old one has often been heard piping under a parlour of the house. It is supposed he meets the witches down there, who have entered by the Fuggo to dance to his music. Hares are often seen to enter the Fuggo which are never known to come out the same way; they are said to be witches going to meet their master, who provides them with some other shape to return in.

There are also traditions of this cavern having served as a place of refuge to some of the Levelis in troublesome times; and of its having frequently been used by our fair-traders, as it afforded them a secure hold for storing their goods, and to have a carouse therein.

[...] A short time ago an old inhabitant of Boleigh informed us that many persons in that neighbourhood are afraid to enter the Fuggo, even by day, as they believe that bad spirits still frequent this place. Women of villages near often threaten their crying babies that they will carry them down to the Fuggo, and leave them there for the Bucca-boo if they don't stop their squalling. there are traditions that almost all these caves were haunted by beings of a fearful nature, whose path it was dangerous to cross.
From William Bottrell's second volume of Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall (1873), which you can read at the Sacred Texts Archive website.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th May 2010ce
Edited 15th May 2010ce

Jo May (the former owner of the fogou) mentions some legends connected with the site.

Firstly, " in AD937 the fields surrounding the site witnessed the slaughter of the last of the Cornish Celts led by Howel in their final battle against King Athelstan and his invading Saxon army. The fogou is known as the 'Boleigh Fogou' and Boleigh means 'place of slaughter'. Legend has it that after the battle the stream by the fort ran red with blood."

He also has a tale connected with the Civil War: that in 1646 some Royalist soldiers who were fleeing the Parliamentary troops were kindly concealed in the dank fogou for several days by a member of the Levellis family. May points to two apparent blocked vents in the roof as a relic of this episode.

May also suggests that the fogou was used as a hiding place for smugglers' and wreckers' booty.

The place became known as the Grambler Grove, it was "..well wooded and the upper part thickly covered with hazel, thorn and elder, with a tangled undergrowth of briars, brambles and furze. Few persons liked to pass this place, because strange noises were heard and fires often seen within it by night, when no one would venture near the place."
(Jo May, who seems to be quoting Blight's 'Churches and Antiquities of West Cornwall' (1885) in 'Fogou' (1996), a sample of which is online at
http://www.gothicimage.co.uk/books/fogou1.html
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th June 2005ce
Edited 20th November 2012ce

The tale of 'Duffy and the Devil' tells of how the squire, out hunting hares one night, chased one from the nearby Merry maidens, past the Pipers and down into the fogou. Once inside the fogou he witnessed a ceremony of witches, disturbing them as they met with the Devil. He reportedly had to run for his life.

From William Bottrell's 'Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall' (1873)
http://sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/swc2/index.htm
Jane Posted by Jane
15th December 2003ce
Edited 1st February 2017ce

Miscellaneous

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"In the middle of this barton of Trove on the top of a hill is still extant the downfalls of a castle or treble intrenchment called … , in the midst of which is a hole leading to a vault under ground. How far it extends no man now living can tell by reason of the damps or thick vapours that are in it, for as soon as you go an arrow flight in it or less your candles will go out or extinguish of themselves for want of air. For what end or use this vault was made is uncertain though it is probable it was an arsenal or store house for laying up arms ammunition corn and provision for the soldiers of the castle wherein it stands. In the wars between Charles I and his Parliament divers of the royal party pursued in the West by the Parliament troops under Sir Thomas Fairfax were privately conveyed into this vault as far as they could proceed with safety, where Mr Leveale fed and secured them till they found opportunity to make their escapes to the king's friends and party."

William Hals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hals
texlahoma Posted by texlahoma
7th April 2010ce

There is apparently a carving at the entrance of the fogou - you can see it on the CAER site here:
http://www.caer.co.uk/index_files/CAER/carving.htm
It was noticed by Dr EB Ford, who excavated the site in 1957. The Caer logo is based on the carving - interpreted as a person holding a staff and a snake. It looks rather ambiguous in the photo though - but perhaps you've seen it yourself?
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th June 2005ce
Edited 10th January 2007ce

From W Hal's 'Compleat History of Cornwal, general and parochial' (1702), quoted by Jo May in his 'Fogou' (1996).
[you see] the downfalls of a castle or treble entrenchment in the midst of which is a hole leading to a vault underground. How far it extends no man living now can tell, by reasons of the damps or thick vapours that are in it, for as soon as you go an arrow flight in it or less your candles will go out or extinguish themselves for want of air.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th June 2005ce

LATEST ACCESS INFORMATION - March 2004

The fogou in the garden of a property of a very nice gentleman called Rob Donaldson, to whom Jo May sold it last year. Contact details are: 'Rosemerryn', Lamorna, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6BN, phone 01736 810530.

He takes his guardianship of the fogou seriously and welcomes guests, but PLEASE phone for an appointment and don't trespass in his garden!
Jane Posted by Jane
14th March 2004ce
Edited 14th March 2004ce

Read 'Fogou: A Journey into the Underworld" by Jo May
ISBN 0 906362 34 2
Gothic Image Publications
kingrolo Posted by kingrolo
25th August 2001ce

Links

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Rosemerryn Wood


The owners of Rosemerryn currently offer bed and breakfast, and a self-catering cottage. On visiting the fogou, their website says:
We would like guests staying at Rosemerryn to feel free to explore the Fogou as often and whenever they wish, and ask only that people are respectful of the site and considerate of each other. We would be grateful if non-resident visitors could phone in advance to arrange a convenient time to visit the site.

Tel: 01736 810530
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th January 2007ce
Edited 10th January 2007ce

Megalithics


Colour pic and description here
Posted by phil
2nd February 2002ce
Edited 10th January 2007ce