Dorset

Cerne Abbas Giant re-chalked for National Trust ownership centenary

NT Countryside Manager Natalie Holt Image copyright John Millar / National Trust
Image caption Natalie Holt from the National Trust said the steep slope was a challenge

A famous hillside chalk figure is being enhanced in time for events to mark the 100th anniversary of its ownership by the National Trust.

Work began on Wednesday to rechalk the Cerne Abbas Giant, whose outline has been blurred by weeds and water erosion since its last full makeover in 2008.

Dozens of volunteers will spend two weeks replacing the chalk by hand.

The naked figure has adorned the Dorset hillside for more than two centuries, although its exact origins are unclear.

Image copyright John Millar / National Trust
Image caption The lines of the giant have been blurred by weeds and water erosion

National Trust countryside manager Natalie Holt said the work was challenging because of the giant's 55m (180ft) height and the steepness of the slope.

"It needs redoing every 10 years or so because he does get discoloured and weathered," she said.

"We know that the impacts of climate change, should we experience more frequent and severe rains, may mean it requires more frequent chalking."

Volunteers will dig out the old outlines before hammering in 17 tonnes of new chalk.

Image copyright John Millar / National Trust
Image caption Dozens of volunteers are replacing the chalk by hand

Mike Clark from the Cerne Historical Society said: "There are many different theories surrounding the giant's identity and origin.

"Some claim he is an ancient symbol, perhaps a likeness of the Greco-Roman God Hercules, though the earliest recorded mention of the Giant only dates from 1694.

"Others suggest he was created to mock Oliver Cromwell."

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The National Trust is planning events to celebrate 100 years of ownership of the figure, which was given to the trust by the Pitt-Rivers family in July 1920.

Image copyright John Millar / National Trust
Image caption It is more than a decade since the giant's last major makeover

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