England // Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire //

Cerne Abbas giant

The village of CERNE ABBAS has bags of charm, with gorgeous Tudor cottages and abbey ruins, but its main attraction is the enormously priapic giant carved in the chalk hillside just north of the village, standing 180ft high and flourishing a club over his disproportionately small head. The age of the monument is disputed, some believing it to be pre-Roman, others thinking it might be a Romano-British figure of Hercules. Either way, in view of his prominent feature it’s probable that the giant originated as some primeval fertility symbol. Folklore has it that lying on the outsize member will induce conception, but the National Trust, who now own the site, do their best to stop people wandering over it and eroding the 2ft-deep trenches that form the outlines.

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