The houses at Chysauster generally conform to a basic plan with some
minor variations and comprise an entrance, a Courtyard, a Bay, A Round Room and
a Long Room. Some of the houses have an additional Small Round Room.
As most of the archaeological finds have been in the Round Rooms and
Courtyards it is assumed that these were the main living areas with the other
rooms serving different purposes.
As luck would have it the occupants of House 6 were out when we visited so we
were able to have a quick skeet around their compact and bijou residence.
- Entrance: Thick outer walls form a passageway which leads into the
Courtyard. It is generally assumed that the Courtyard was not covered, hence
the name given to it.
- Small Chamber: This is an additional feature of House 6. The presence of a
sump and the two levels would seem to indicate that the area may have been
used for water collection and storage.
- Bay: It is thought that these would have been covered with a lean-to roof
and used as a shelter for livestock.
- 'Back Door': Another slightly unusual feature, it is an original part of
the structure and this seems to have been its only likely purpose.
- Round Room: This was the main living area. Due to a technical problem
(i.e. incompetence) this is actually a piccy of a Round Room from one of the
other houses but basically they are all the same. Every Round Room contains
(contained, some have been moved at some point) a stone with a hollow in it.
It is generally assumed that these are post holes for roof supports but the
presence of them in the Courtyards may indicate that some of them were used
as Quern Stones (stones used for grinding corn).
|A Round Room with both a hearth (left) and a hollowed stone.
The position of this one would seem to indicate it held a support post.
- Hearth: The only minor variation being that some, such as House 6, still
have the remains of a hearth surviving.
- View of Courtyard, Round and Long Rooms: The village is on the side of a
hill so it is just possible to get to a point of elevation where you can see
back down into some of the houses. [But please don't clamber all over the
walls to get a better angle or you'll just end up knackering the site for
- Long Room: The lack of finds in these rooms indicate that they may have
been used for storage rather than living space. On the other hand, the Long
Room in House 6 contains the remains of a stone partition. It is not a
structural part of the building so was probably put in at a later date.
Maybe it was stroppy Iron Age teenagers wanting some 'personal space'!
- Circular Chamber: This is another extra feature in House 6. Its connection
to the Long Room and its raised level might indicate that it was used for
storage of goods that needed to be kept dry.
- Entrance to Small Round Room: Note this is again elevated above the level
of the Courtyard.
- Small Round Room: Again this is another additional feature to House 6. The
floor is paved and remains of a fire and pottery were found probably
indicating that this was an additional living room. Possibly a large family
or maybe the original 'Granny Flat'.
So, that's Chysauster.
Well, that's a bit of it, anyway. It really is impossible to do justice to it
so you're best off going to see it for yourselves.
Just to give you final taster, here is Judith Dobie's artistic reconstruction
of life in Chysauster way back when:-
|Copyright English Heritage
Or is that the photo I took last week of market day in Penzance?