(UPDATED 7/10/2020) Description of a visit to the Cerne Abbas Giant (aka Cerne Giant), England’s largest chalk hill figure. One of a series of Adventures in England blog posts. How old is the Cerne Giant? See UPDATE below for new information.
It was the second day of the 2019 Megalithomania Mysteries of England tour, and among other sights we were going to view the Cerne Giant. Hugh Newman of Megalithomania, our tour guide, picked us up in the van for the trip from Amesbury.
See related blog post: Adventures in England
We all enjoyed the scenery as we drove through the rural countryside. Rural roads in England are very narrow and at times are hemmed in by stone walls or trees and bushes. I was glad to sit where I could not see the road directly in front of the van. In fact my seatmate, who was sitting next to the window, stated that without a doubt I was “better off not knowing”.
The Cerne Giant, England’s largest chalk hill figure, is located near the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset County, England. The nude male figure, with a large club in his right hand, stands 180 feet tall! Its intended purpose and origin remains unknown.
Adventures in England (from a personal perspective)
Like the Uffington White Horse, the Cerne Giant is outlined by trenches cut into the turf and backfilled with chalk. Unlike the Uffington White Horse, which has been reliability dated and determined to be 3,000 years old, the age of the Cerne Giant chalk hill figure is an open question.
See related blog post: Adventures in England – Uffington White Horse
Upon arrival, we parked the van and hiked to the feet of the Cerne Giant. When explaining what was known or unknown about the chalk hill figure, Hugh mentioned that the local folks have long believed that the Cerne Giant aids fertility. He added that local couples have been known to, in the dark of night, make love while lying on the Cerne Giant’s “parts”.
The Cerne Giant is best seen from above, and Hugh had brought his drone. We obediently waved as the drone approached our group and then he sent it way, way up above the Cerne Giant.
You can view the You Tube video here: 2019 Mysteries of England Tour – Cerne Giant I am sitting on the end (on the right) of the members of our tour group.
And no, I was not being anti-social. I had spotted a hole in the side of the hill and did not want to be sitting in front of it in case it was inhabited and the occupant decided to join the photo shoot.
Cerne Abbas Giant Centenary
The Cerne Giant was given to the National Trust in 1920. To celebrate its centenary in 2020, the National Trust is planning a year of celebration.
To ensure the Cerne Giant looks his best for the celebration, National Trust staff and volunteers will be rechalking the Cerne Giant in late August this year.
So, if you are in the vicinity of the Cerne Giant in 2020 – you may want to stop by to see him!
According to a report by the BBC News, an analysis of snail shells found at the site of the Cerne Abbas Giant suggests the 180-foot-tall chalk drawing dates to the medieval period or later.
The remains of a particular species of tiny snails have been found in soil samples in the chalk outline of the figure. The species is thought to have been accidentally introduced in England sometime during the 13th and 14th centuries.
The National Trust intends to scientifically determine a more exact age for the figure by analyzing soil samples collected from its feet and elbows. The test results have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned!
Comments on the Cerne Abbas Giant?
Have you visited the Cerne Giant site? What would you add?
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