forecourt n : the outer or front court of a building or of a group of buildings
NounIn the context of "mainly British":
In architecture a forecourt is an open area in front of a structure's entrance.
In archaeology, forecourt is the name given to the area in front of certain types of chamber tomb. They were likely the venue of ritual practices connected with the burial and commemoration of the dead in the past societies that built these types of tombs.
In European megalithic architecture, forecourts are curved in plan with the entrance to the tomb at the apex of the open semi-circle enclosure that the forecourt creates. The sides were built up by either large upright stones or walls of smaller stones laid atop one another.
Some also had paved floors and some had blocking stones erected in front of them to seal the tomb such as at West Kennet Long Barrow. Their shape, which suggests an attempt to focus attention on the tomb itself may mean that they were used ceremonially as a kind of open air auditorium during ceremonies. Excavation within some forecourts has recovered animal bone, pottery and evidence of burning suggesting that they served as locations for votive offerings or feasting dedicated to the dead.
In a gas station a forecourt is the area where the pumps are present. It is the area outside the sales room or the convenience store of a gas station when customers park their automobiles for filling fuel. It can either be manned or unmanned.