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One of the best ways to learn about an ancient culture is to look at the types of homes or dwellings they lived in. The way a house is constructed will speak volumes about what a certain group of people believed about family, religion, and community. There are many fascinating dwellings throughout different time periods that are good to study, but one of the most curious is the fogou houses of the Romano-British people.

Cornwall Fogue

This group lived during the Iron Age in the city of Cornwall. These fogous are a rarity to find, as only 15 of them have been excavated so far. The construction of the home is very interesting. They were created by digging out a sloped trench, and then slabs made from stone were used to create caps or roofs for the structure. People used stones to line the walls, and soil was often put on top of the dwelling.

Fogou About It

An interesting fact about fogou dwellings is that no one is quite sure what their exact purpose was. Their construction is proof that these structures were of high importance to the communities in which they were built. Some archaeologists believe they were used for religious purposes.


Perhaps some type of worship service or ritual took place in the fogous. Others believe they were used to store food and other important supplies. These shelters were very well protected, so it would've made sense to place items of value in them for safekeeping. Another theory suggests that perhaps these were the ancient versions of bomb shelters, designed to be a place of safe refuge should raiders enter the village.

Fogou You

These mysterious structures have a lot in common with earth lodges. Understanding a bit about earth lodges can help modern people understand the purpose of the fogou house a little more clearly. In Sutherland, archaeologists have discovered many of these lodges. The lodges contained petrospheres, or stone balls. The stone balls were a symbol of power, which demonstrates that these structures may have been used for more than just rituals and storage space.

A Peek from Inside a Fogou

The people of Germany also made dwellings similar to fogous. While the construction was similar, some of the materials used to make the German dwellings were quite different. Individuals would hollow out caves and then cover the area with manure. These shelters were then used for storage space for food, or for protection from cold winter winds. Other groups in the area used them for protection during raids. Some think these shelters may have had multiple uses in the community as well.


If you are someone who is interested in learning more about a particular group of people in history, nothing will give you as much understanding of them as to look at their homes. This is the place where they rested and raised families, or cared for sick relatives. Studying the lives of these people long ago, can help us determine which direction we should be going in the future.