Dorset Giant

A huge outline sculpted into the chalk hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas, Dorset, representing a naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant is the figure upon which these products are based. 

Public perceptions are wide-ranging. Is he smutty, humorous or offensive?

Certainly, he has been used to advertise products as diverse as jeans, bicycles and condoms!

Childless couples have always believed him to be a unique aid to fertility.

The Cerne Abbas figure has conventionally been viewed as a great symbol of ancient spirituality. A mound below the giant's left hand may be the sculpted remnant of a severed head which he once clutched - a rather grisly, if common, ancient Celtic religious symbol.

Alternatively, the Roman hero, Hercules, was often depicted naked with a club in his right hand and a lion skin draped over his left shoulder. Scientific tests have suggested that there might once have been something draped over the giant's left side, but long since grassed over.

The problem with all these theories is that despite an abundant archive of local Medieval documents at Cerne Abbey, there is no written reference to the giant before 1694. In 1774, the Reverand John Hutchins claimed he was told that the giant was a "modern thing" cut by Lord Holles.

Lord Holles, who owned Giant Hill from 1642 until 1666, was a fierce critic of Oliver Cromwell. Could the Cerne Abbas Giant seek to satirise Cromwell's stern puritanical rule?

People will continue to speculate about the origins of the giant. However, a new scientific technique, Optical Luminescence, may yet offer a concrete answer. This has already been used to date the Uffington White Horse as three thousand years old. 

During the Second World War, the giant was disguised to prevent the Germans from using him as an aerial landmark. Since then he has always been visible, receiving regular grass trimming and a full re-chalking every twenty-five years.