Cerne Abbas

The small village of Cerne Abbas is a few miles to the North of Dorchester. Originally the village was centred on an Abbey that was founded in the 10th century, but this was largely destroyed during the reformation of King Henry VIII. St Mary's church and a few small buildings are all that remains of the abbey. The village has since developed and has the usual Dorset mix of characterful cottages tear rooms and small country pubs.

Cerne Abbas is also home of one of England's more curious figures. The Giant is 55 m high and is carved into the grass of the hill allowing the chalk white soil to show the outline. The figure is sometimes referred to as the Rude Man, but its origins are disputed. While some people believe it dates from ancient times, more scholars now think that it probably dates from the 17th century, as there is no mention of it in Medieval writings. The figure is reminiscent of pictures of Hercules and there is one theory that it could well have been a parody of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil war.

The Giant can be observed from an official viewing place, but is better viewed from further up the hill or from the air. It has recently been restored and is owned by the National Trust