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About ‘hulls’……

‘Hulls’ have been used mostly as storage places for potatoes, root crops, dairy products such as milk, eggs and cream both for domestic use, and in farmyards for storage prior to taking the products to local markets.

‘Hull’ is not a mispronunciation of ‘hole’. It is derived from the Cornish word ‘huth’ meaning ‘cover’ or ‘shade’ in Cornish.

The photograph below illustrates a ‘hull’ with this example being situated in Four Lanes, near Redruth.

The ‘hull’ at Four Lanes, near Redruth

A listed building, much of the structure is located underground and it extends westwards for approximately 28 feet from the entrance steps. The side chambers, which are at right angles to the central passage, extend for some 15 feet to both the north and south of the passage.

Interestingly, Cornish dialect – not Cornish language, but dialect – describes a hole in the rocks or a shellfish store as a ‘hully’.

Existing across Cornwall and into Devon, the Cornish exported this method of storage, kept at an even temperature, to North America and very possibly, Australia.

There is some suggestion that the earliest ‘hulls’ date from medieval times and they were still being constructed and used in and up to the 19th century.

Local historian Michael Tangye has researched and written extensively about these unique features. See ‘“Hulls” in Cornwall: a survey and discussion’ in the Journal of Cornish Archaeology.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.


February 2022

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