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Cerne Abbas Giant

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Cerne Abbas Giant

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Cerne Abbas Giant

The Cerne Abbas Giant, aka the Rude Man (just have a look at the picture if you don’t know what we’re talking about), manfully straddles the hilltop in Dorset, measuring a knee-trembling 180 feet in length. Ploughing deep into the softly curving chalk hillside, the assured strokes that outline his form are visible for miles around and he appears proudly brandishing (as mysteriousbritain.co.uk puts it) his “huge knobbled club”. The origins of this priapic poseur are obscure. Is he an Iron Age man, a Roman or an invention of the 17th century? What is his purpose (other than to offend prim Victorian ladies and the local monks)? It seems unavoidable that the Giant is in some way linked to fertility rituals and it is said that a woman who spends a night sleeping within the outline of the giant phallus will be sure to conceive. Hardly a good example of the “No Sex, Please, We’re British” school of thought, perhaps the Giant represents a more liberated version of ourselves...

Image: Topfoto.co.uk

NOMINATION 1005 OF 1170

Your comments

White hill carving that some say portrays that giant of English history Oliver Cromwell. Legend describes fertility rites associated with it.

Alan Woodward


Seeing these magnificant chalk 'carvings' is - to me at least - a VERY english experience. The Wiltshire Horse and cerne Abbas Giant evoke images of summeer in green English downlands
David Chandler


The historical origins of this chalk figure have nothing to do with neolithic fertility rites, etc. From recent research it now seems certain that it was first created in Cromwellian times, it's purpose seeming to have been more in the nature of a political cartoon at the expense of Cromwell himself. For more information, see the program entitled "Figures In The Chalk" from the OU's excellent "Talking Landscapes" series, fronted by Aubrey Manning.
Charles Harrison


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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry

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