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Chysauster Ancient Village

chysasuter ancient village

Discover Cornwall’s Mystical Chysauster Ancient Village

On a remote and rugged hillside surrounded by open moorland near Penzance lies Chysauster Ancient Village – the wonderfully preserved remains of an Iron Age village dating back over 2000 years. Chysauster’s oval stone houses today offer historians a rare chance to glimpse rural life in ancient Cornwall through the centuries.

Whether planning a trip already exploring Cornwall or an avid archaeology enthusiast, visiting this fascinating site promises a memorable glimpse into the past. Here’s everything you need to uncover one of the UK’s most unspoilt ancient monuments.

view of chysauster ancient village

Getting There

You’ll find atmospheric Chysauster situated roughly 8 miles inland from popular seaside resort Penzance near Gulval village.

It sits remotely within open Cornish countryside alongside the historic St Paul’s Church halfway between Gulval and Pendeen along the B3318 coast road. Park carefully at the roadside or in the small car park, where there are abot 15 spaces.

The nearest train station is Penzance, about 3 miles away.

Public transport is tricky, but the bus service is with First, service 16. The journeys via Zennor alight New Mill, then walk 1.5 miles. Alternatively First 16 to Castle Gate and then about 1.75 miles walk.

Opening Times & Tickets

One of the best things about atmospheric ancient sites like Chysauster is that entry is completely free year-round!

As an unstaffed protected scheduled monument, you’re able to ramble through its remains at your own pace while admiring interpretive panels detailing excavations and life in the village centuries ago.

Early morning or late afternoon often coincides with fewer visitors for a more evocative experience.

The site is owned and managed by English Heritage and they do a great job here.

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About Chysauster Ancient Village

Chysauster Ancient Village stands as a testament to a vibrant community that thrived almost 2,000 years ago. Occupied from the late Iron Age (around 100 BC) to the Romano-British period (3rd century AD), it offers a rare glimpse into the lives of people who existed at the fringes of the Roman Empire.

Unlike other settlements of the time, Chysauster boasts a unique architectural style all of it’s own. The village comprises eight to ten “courtyard houses,” circular dwellings crafted from drystone walls and surrounding an open central space. These houses likely housed extended families, with thatched roofs covering rooms dedicated to sleeping, cooking, and storage. The presence of hearths and querns suggest a community primarily focused on agriculture, cultivating cereals like barley and wheat and raising livestock like sheep and pigs.

walls at chysauster ancient village

Chysauster wasn’t merely an isolated farming community. Evidence points to interaction with other settlements, likely for trade and social exchange. Excavations have unearthed Roman pottery and other imported goods, hinting at connections beyond their immediate landscape. The enigmatic “fogou,” a subterranean passage found within the village, further sparks imaginations, with theories ranging from storage cellars to ritual spaces.

While the specific reason for Chysauster’s abandonment in the 3rd century AD remains shrouded in mystery, several possibilities arise. Climate change, resource depletion, or social upheaval could have driven the villagers away. Perhaps they migrated to more fertile lands, leaving behind their silent stone haven.

Today, Chysauster stands as a poignant reminder of a bygone era. Managed by English Heritage, the site beckons visitors to wander through the evocative courtyards, imagining the lives that unfolded within. It’s a tangible connection to the past, whispering stories of resilience, adaptation, and community amidst the rugged Cornish beauty.

chysauster

What to See & Do Today

Visitors can freely wander through the village remnants at their own pace. Marvel at the intricacies of building dry stone houses that still stand over 9 feet high in places complete with living chambers, storage pans and ventilation.

Top highlights include:

  • Reading storyboards explaining how inhabitants lived
  • Admiring the clever stonework skills creating houses
  • Picturing families going about their daily tasks
  • Exploring the small tunnels and enclosures
  • Gazing out at timeless Cornish scenery

How do you pronounce Chysauster?

There are actually two main pronunciations for Chysauster, and neither seems to be definitively “correct”:

1. “Shy-ZOY-ster” This pronunciation emphasizes the “oy” sound and is considered to be closer to the Cornish language origin of the name.

2. “Chy-saw-ster” This pronunciation treats the “au” combination as a diphthong, similar to “house”.

Ultimately, it’s up to you which pronunciation you choose. No matter how you say it, you’ll be understood. So, pick the one that feels most comfortable to you!

aerial view of chysasuter ancient village

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the site accessible for wheelchairs? – The main paths within the village are accessible, but some areas have uneven ground. Be sure to check accessibility information on the English Heritage website.

Are dogs allowed? – Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome, but must be kept under control throughout your visit. 

Are there toilets available? – Yes, there are basic toilet facilities on site.

Is there a cafe or restaurant on site? – No, there are no eating in facilities available at Chysauster. Be sure to bring your own refreshments if needed.

Is there a gift shop? Yes, there is a small shop selling a selection of English Heritage gifts and themed souvenirs, as well as a range of bottled drinks and snacks. The shop is located half way between the car park and the site. You can also find souvenirs and historical information at other English Heritage sites or online.

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fields at chysasuter

Other Nearby Attractions

Near Chysauster Ancient Village in Cornwall, there are several attractions worth visiting, including:

  • Flambards: A family-friendly theme park with a variety of rides and indoor attractions, such as the Victorian Village and the Britain in the Blitz exhibition
  • Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden: A museum showcasing the works of the renowned artist Barbara Hepworth, including her sculptures, drawings, and paintings
  • Trewidden Garden: A beautiful garden with a wide variety of plants, open for visitors to explore and enjoy
  • Carn Euny Ancient Village: An Iron Age village with well-preserved ruins, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past
  • Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens: A stunning garden featuring contemporary artwork and sculptures set amidst a dramatic landscape and sub-tropical planting7.
  • Trengwainton Garden: A National Trust garden with exotic plants, walled gardens, and stunning views over Mount’s Bay
  • Penlee House Gallery & Museum: A gallery and museum housing a diverse collection of art and historical artifacts, including works by local artists
  • Merry Maidens Stone Circle: A Neolithic-Bronze Age stone circle consisting of 19 stones, offering a glimpse into ancient history and local folklore
  • Morrab Gardens: A beautiful public garden with a rich variety of subtropical and exotic plants, perfect for a leisurely stroll
  • Ballowall Barrow: An ancient burial site dating back to the Bronze Age, featuring a well-preserved chambered tomb

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