Reasons for Designation
The courtyard house is a building form developed in south west England in the Roman period during the second to fourth centuries AD. It was usually oval or curvilinear in shape, taking the form of a thick coursed rubble wall containing rooms and some storage chambers. A central area - the courtyard - was enclosed by this wall and the rooms and the main entrance opened into it. The courtyard is generally considered to have remained unroofed. Excavations of courtyard houses have revealed paved and cobbled floors, stone partitions, slab-lined and slab-covered drains, threshold and door pivot stones and slab-lined hearths, together with artefactual debris. Excavations have also shown that some courtyard houses developed from earlier phases of timber and/or stone built round houses on the same site. Courtyard houses may occur singly or in groups. The national distribution includes over 110 recorded courtyard houses, mostly on the Penwith peninsula at the western tip of Cornwall, with a single example on the Isles of Scilly. Courtyard houses are unique within the range of Romano- British settlement types, showing a highly localised adaptation to the windswept conditions of the far south west of England. At least four courtyard house settlements are also associated with fogous, underground passages up to 30m long and 2m wide, usually with side passages and/or chambers. The passages' drystone walls were initially built in a trench, roofed with flat slabs then covered by earth. The courtyard house settlements are important sources of information on the distinctive nature and pattern of settlement that developed during the Iron Age and Roman periods in south west England. Despite partial excavation, the courtyard house settlement with enclosure and fogou 235m south east of Porthmeor Farm survives well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, function, agricultural practices, social organisation, territorial significance, trade, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context
The monument includes a courtyard house settlement with enclosure and fogou, situated on a gentle north west facing slope beside an un-named river leading to Porthmeor Cove. The settlement survives as four courtyard houses with a number of stone hut circles. The courtyard houses are defined by drystone-built walls and stony banks with upstanding door jambs of up to 2m high. They are generally constructed on levelled platforms. Three of the courtyard houses, together with some stone hut circles, lie within the enclosure which is defined by a stony bank up to 2.4m high. The enclosure is divided into a number of paddocks by internal boundary banks. Further stone hut circles, a courtyard house and the fogou lie to the south of the enclosure. The fogou survives as a curved passage up to 12.8m long, 1.5m wide and 1.7m high. Although no longer roofed the corbelled sides are still visible, as is evidence for an under floor drain.
The settlement was first discovered by Henry Crozier in the mid-19th century and was partly excavated by Hirst in between 1933 and 1935.This work revealed the site to have originated as an unenclosed stone hut circle settlement in the Iron Age which was enclosed in the 2nd century AD when the courtyard houses were added. Pottery suggested occupation from the 1st - 4th centuries AD.
PastScape Monument No:-423591