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English Heritage

ST 60 SE 39



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CERNE GIANT


Description:  Large turf-cut hill figure on Giant Hill, representing a naked male brandishing a club. Various anatomical features have been boldly depicted. There has been considerable debate over his origins, with most periods from Romano-British to Post Medieval suggested. There have been many suggestions regarding who the figure represents, it has been identified as Hercules and related to the second-century cult of Commodus. Another suggested identity for the figure is Nodons, a Celtic equivalent of Donar, a massively strong all-powerful figure worshipped by the Germanic tribes. A resistivity survey of the area was carried out in 1980 by Anthonty Clark of the Ancient Monuments Laboratory for the programme by Arthur C Clarke entitled `This Mysterious World'. When the anolomalies were plotted they revealed a feature that has been identified as a cloak or skin thrown over the giant's left arm, this has been used as further evidence to identify the figure as Hercules. There is a lack of documentary evidence for the site pre-dating the mid 16th century. The figure was renovated in 1868 and 1887, and was given to the National Trust in 1920 by the Pitt-Rivers Family.

Country:  ENGLAND

County:  DORSET

District:  WEST DORSET

Parish:  CERNE ABBAS

Grid reference:  ST66650167

Map reference: [EPSG:27700] 366650, 101670

Period: MEDIEVAL; MODERN; POST MEDIEVAL; ROMAN; 1633 - 1667; 1868; 1887; 1920; 

Subject: HILL FIGURE; MODIFIED SURFACE; 

Identifiers: 

  • [ADS] Depositor ID-ST 60 SE 39
  • [ADS] Import RCN-NMR_NATINV-199015

People Involved: 

  • [Publisher] English Heritage
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