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Chysuaster Ancient Village


Chycauster is an example of a courtyard village. Each stone-built house has a stone-paved courtyard surrounded by rooms and byres, the whole complex enclosed within a stone wall. Outside are the stone-walled fields belonging to the settlement. There are 24 of these villages in SW Cornwall, but this is probably the best example.

Chysauster contains many of the hallmarks of the traditional Cornish village, right down to the street of neat stone cottages with terraced gardens. It was an Iron Age village (Romano-British) inhabited from about 100BC to sometime in the 3rd century AD. It was probably built by members of the Dumnonii tribe of Cornish Britons.  The village is composed of eight courtyard houses, laid out in two rows of four. Outside the main grouping of houses is another stone house, and there are the remains of several outlying buildings in the surrounding fields. Some accounts say there are 9 houses.

The oval houses, built in pairs, occupy a site on an east west axis with entrance to the east, each occupying a space about 90feet or 27m long, many of which are very well preserved, but roofless shells. The layout involves an open courtyard about 25 feet in diameter, with a round living room opposite the entrance and a long narrow room along one side wall and small other storage rooms or places to keep animals. The walls are up to 14 feet thick in places. Each of the houses has a terraced garden.  

The main rooms feature a central flat stone socket hole, for a wooden post to support the thatched roof. You can see the remains of open hearths, stone basins for grinding grain, and covered drains.

The site also has a fogou (Cornish for cave), an underground passage. The fogou at Chysauster is in a derelict state and not as spectacular as the one that can be seen at Carn Euny, 12 remain in Cornwall. You cannot enter it, as English Heritage filled it in, in the 1980's on safety grounds, as they felt it might cave in, a move which has been very controversial. See Carn Euny for more information on Fogou. I have read comments about some walls being put back in the wrong place at the time of earlier excavations before being taken over by English Heritage, in some accounts this relates to whole sections of the village, effecting the layout as seen now.

See also

Our section on stone circles

The discussion on the purpose of stone circles

Planning Grid


Chysauster Ancient Village, Cornwall

Grid Reference

SW473350     Landranger Map Number: 203

Map Link:


Google aerial photograph

Getting there:

Road 2 m NW of Gulval off the B3311




Car Park


Toilets, shop

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Ancient villages with street, old houses etc. open hearths, stone basins for grinding grain, and covered drains.

What to take:

wide angle lens

Nature highlights:


Best Times to Visit:



Nr Gulval




TR20 8XA


01831 757934 (summer only)

07831 757934





Opening times:

1 Apr-30 Jun, and 1-30 Sept 10am to 5pm, 1 July -31 Aug 10am-6pm, 1-31 Oct 10am-4pm, closed 1 Nov-20 Mar after 20 Mar? 

Last entry 30 minutes before closing.


English Heritage members free, other wise adults 2.40, Children 1.20 and concessions 1.80

Photo Restrictions:

None known, probably no commercial photography

Other Restrictions: None known
Special Needs Access: Terrain may be difficult for some
Special Needs Facilities:  
Children Facilities: Baby changing facilities
Dogs Allowed: On a lead

Other useful websites:



CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated: 02/08

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