Coronavirus: Cerne Abbas Giant given face mask makeover

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Cerne giant with face maskImage source, Kevin Knight
Image caption,
The ancient figure is thought to have been unofficially altered on Friday

A famous hillside chalk figure has been adorned with a face mask.

The Cerne Abbas Giant is thought to have been given the unauthorised addition on Friday.

Local resident Kevin Knight, who tweeted a picture of the alteration earlier, said it had "really lifted villagers' spirits".

The National Trust, which manages the protected Dorset site, said it did not encourage defacements.

Image source, Jonathan Steele / Paddy Power
Image caption,
The ancient naked figure has been unofficially altered several times before

The 180ft (55m) ancient naked figure is not normally accessible to the public, in order to avoid damage and erosion.

It has been unofficially altered several times before.

The penis was adorned with petals and leaves in 2019, while two years earlier the name "Theresa" and a tennis racquet were added on separate occasions.

Mr Knight tweeted: "Great to see Cerne Abbas Giant practising social distancing, wearing his face mask and keeping up villagers' morale."

He added: "It has put a smile on some of the older people's faces who are shielding and self-isolating."

The alteration bears a resemblance to a hand drawing, tweeted on Tuesday by Ministry of Defence archaeologist Richard Osgood.

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Mr Osgood said his "prophetic" sketch, with the words "stay safe", was a "bizarre coincidence".

The National Trust said: "While we understand the public's ongoing concern about coronavirus, we don't encourage the defacing of the Cerne Abbas Giant.

"Any such action may damage this fragile site, whether by someone physically attaching something to him or giving the impression of having done so, as this may encourage others.

"The giant is protected as both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its important chalk grassland which supports wild flowers, butterflies and other wildlife."

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