To unravel the possible purpose and meaning of the Fogou & Beehive Hut, we have to go back to the earliest period of its development. In the beginning, the Beehive Hut was constructed, with its entrance facing SE, and a recess at the back opposite to the entrance. This ‘hut’ was thus deliberately aligned to catch the first rays of the rising sun at the Mid- winter Solstice, which would have shone directly into the recess, which may have formed some kind of ‘altar’ to celebrate the rebirth of the sun God/dess. The next phase of building was the fogou, which was sealed at both ends, with access only by the creep passage. The orientation of the fogou (and most other extant fogous in Wesp Penwith) was now in a NE/ SW direction, which means that the northerly end would have received the rays of the rising Midsummer sun. About this time the houses in the Settlement were being built, and the Bee- hive Hut and Fogou were incorporated into the northern house, so that the house may have served as some kind of ante-chamber or preparation room for entering the Hut and Fogou.
What then was the purpose of the fogou? Three main suggestions have been made (1) refuge (2) storage & (3) ceremony and ritual. Refuge seems an unlikely function. As we have seen, both ends of the fogou were sealed, so once inside the inhabitants would have been trapped and easy to smoke out or be destroyed. Although fogous bear a superficial resemblance to souterrains in Ireland, Scotland and Brittany from the same period, in fact souterrains, which were used for refuge, are very different, with false passages, hidden doors and secret areas. Storage is also unlikely. It has been shown that most foodstuffs would per- ish very quickly if stored there. Only dairy products would do well, and fogous seem unnecessarily elaborate to serve as an Iron Age fridge! Ceremony & Ritual seems the most likely ex- planation. We may imagine that are significant times of the year, like Summer Solstice, initi- ates would crawl down into the chamber and await the rebirth of the sun as the first light en- tered the chamber through perhaps a removable stone at the entrance.