Cerne Abbas giant in bold

The Cerne Abbas giant, the chalk drawing of a man with a giant club and, er, another giant club carved into a Dorset hillside is getting some work done.

Over the years, animals walking over the design and vegetation reclaiming the space had blurred the once-sharp white lines of the famous figure. Thirty volunteers stepped up to the task of sprucing him up by digging up the overgrown greens and re-chalking the outline.

No one is quite sure when the giant first appeared. Some say he is a pagan fertility symbol and that if a childless woman and her partner spend the night camping between the giant’s legs, she will be a mother within two years.

Others claim that the figure represents the Greek hero Hercules, who was often depicted with a club in his right hand. Either way, there are no documents mentioning the giant before 1694 – although medieval writers had written copious amounts about the hillside itself.

Local records suggest that the giant was carved as late as the 17th century, during the Civil War, on the orders of the area’s bigwig, Denzil Holles. It was intended as a cruel parody of Oliver Cromwell, who was sometimes referred to mockingly as England’s Hercules.

He he… Carving a 180-foot effigy with a giant boner into the hillside is a pretty awesome flame of a Puritan.

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