Chysauster Courtyard Settlement


Photographic reproduction from a lantern slide of Chysauster Courtyard Settlement, Gulval, c.1890s

The settlement at Chysauster is probably the most visually impressive of the Iron Age settlements in Cornwall and was the first prehistoric site that I ever visited, back in the 1970s. Courtyard houses are so named as the house and its associated structures are arranged around an open courtyard. Aileen Fox gives a vivid description of the group of courtyard houses1 as "a village of eight such houses, arranged in pairs on opposite sides of a street, with two or three more together with an underground store (fogou) a short distance away. The houses are irregular ovals, up to 90ft long, terraced into the hillside, with the entrances turned away from the prevailing south-west winds. Across the courtyard was the principal dwelling, a round or oval hut with the roof supported on posts set in stone sockets. On one side of the courtyard was a long narrow room which was a work room, sometimes for industrial purposes, and on the other there was a recess with a lean-to roof, probably a stable for ponies." Image courtesy of and © David Thomas.