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Chysauster Village

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork

Fieldnotes

Chysauster Settlement – 27.12.2002

Approaching from the North, Chysauster was signposted from the road, just North of Newmills (approx SW458344), but it’s not a brown tourist sign. This lane to Chysauster is extremely narrow and includes numerous totally blind corners – probably the most dangerous lane I travelled on in a week in Cornwall.

A car park is situated at approx SW470347, complete with sparkling new toilet block. It’s a short walk up to the entrance kiosk, 2 fields away. It’s then another short walk up to the main settlement. I’m a bit confused as to their opening policy. In 2002 it was advertised as open from 10am - 6pm between 24 Mar & 30 Sept and then 10am - 5pm in October. At other times of the year it seems to just be sort of open anyway. When there is someone there to take money its is 1.80 for adults, 90p for kids, 1.40 for Concessions and free for English Heritage members. The Head Custodian is available on 07831 757934.

The village itself is excellent but I could imagine it might be a bit impersonal on a touristy hot summers day. Thankfully not even the amazing ineptitude of English Heritage can ruin the spirit of this fascinating settlement.

What is English Heritage trying to do to this place? Do they expect this place to become a huge tourist trap despite the fact that there is only room for about 7 cars to park and the narrow lanes are pretty dangerous? The website says it will take 2 coaches, so I guess they are more confident than me about a coach getting through the lanes into the small car park! Why fill in the fogou with earth and stick big bars across its entrance “for safety reasons”. And why stick a garish wooden shed and picnic table high up on the South East edge of the site? And why erect an info board that says “ the village appears to have been built in the Roman period between the 1st and 3rd Centuries AD”, totally denying its Pre-Roman reality. Cornish expert Craig Weatherhill says, “It has been suggested by some that courtyard houses were native imitations of Roman dwellings, but it is clear that Chysuaster was built before the Romans ever came to Britain, perhaps as early as 100BC. There is no sign of any Roman influence….”.

Presumably the treatment of this fascinating settlement has got worse in recent years. In Weatherhill’s 1981 book ‘Belerion: Ancient Sites of Land’s End’ (Cornwall Books) he describes the site as “beautifully maintained by the Dept of the Environment”. By the time of the 1997/2000 updates to his other book ‘Cornovia: Ancient Sites of Cornwall and Scilly’ he comments that “recently ‘English’ Heritage, the supposed custodians of the site, made the outrageous decision to infill the fogou rather than effect repairs to an unstable roofing stone, despite assurance to the contrary. The passage can no longer be seen but the face of the outer roofing slab is visible”. The fogou now has a nasty set of railings over its entrance.

Don’t miss the sexy walled pathway on the North side of the field (i.e. as far away from the entrance hut as possible), which leads up to the houses.
pure joy Posted by pure joy
24th January 2003ce
Edited 25th January 2003ce

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