– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –
Continuing on the theme of ‘Quirky Dorset’, today we feature something rude 🙂 ! This is ancient graffiti, a hillside carved up, and X-rated to boot! This is the world famous Cerne Abbas Giant.
The Cerne Abbas Giant
This figure carved in the hillside above Cerne Abbas is shrouded in mystery……actually, maybe he should be shrouded in a cloak 🙂 ! There is considerable divergence of opinion on where he came from and how old he is, as well as why he is pictured thus!
Some say he is ancient with opinions varying between Saxon, Roman, Celtic and so on but in fact the first mention of him dates from the 17th century. That doesn’t mean he is not older, just that there is no documentary evidence. He stands 55 meters (180 feet) tall and almost as wide and he wields a club which itself is 37 meters (121 feet) long. His…….um, how shall I put it…….’manhood’ is 11 meters (36 feet) long. Studies over the years have shown that he once had a cloak draped over his left arm and that he possibly held or stood over a severed head but these features, if they were ever there, have been lost to erosion.
Again, there is much divergence of opinion on who he represents. Some say he is the Roman god Hercules, some say he is a Celtic god since a similar picture was found on a skillet handle at a nearby hill fort, others say that he could be a parody of Oliver Cromwell and that he was carved during the English Civil War. In truth, we shall probably never know and perhaps that is a good thing because maybe the mystery that surrounds him just adds to the intrigue.
Naturally, there is always a bit of folklore around such things 🙂 ! It has been said that he marks the outline of a real giant, possibly from Denmark, who was beheaded by brave locals as he slept on the hillside. And of course there is folklore around fertility, such as the belief that making love whilst laying on one particular part of his anatomy can cure infertility……….the mind boggles! Oh, and of course, he gets up now and then and walks to the stream at the bottom of the valley for a drink. Well, its thirsty work laying on a hillside 🙂 !
Now, to be contentious for a moment! If this were modern and was carved anywhere, or if a piece of graffiti was drawn like this, there would be a public outcry and undoubtedly the local authority would obscure the offending image quicker than you could say, ‘The young people of today’! So how come this one is perfectly acceptable? One wonders what would happen if a graffiti artist was up in court for producing lewd images and pleaded the acceptance of the Cerne Abbas Giant as a defence 🙂 ! In fact, in 1921 someone raised this issue, possibly a bit tongue in cheek, and his suggestion that part should be covered with a giant leaf gained some support, ultimately going all the way to the Home Office. Their reaction was that since the giant is an ancient monument, it could not be interfered with!
So that is the Cerne Abbas Giant, which I think fits the description of quirky 🙂 ! All things aside though, this is real Dorset history and the giant resides on a beautiful Dorset hillside where you will find some great walking and some fabulous views. Always worth a visit……..but probably don’t try the so called fertility cure, you might get arrested 🙂 !
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Your friend The Dorset Rambler
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