Cerne Abbas and the rude Giant

Cerne Abbas can be found about 7 miles north of Dorchster and can be reached by car via the A352 which runs from Sherborne There is no train station here the nearest is at Sherborne. Sherborne is on the line to London Waterloo.

You can buy tickets through Raily Easy There is a limited bus service running from Sherborne to Dorchster the time table of which can be found here

History

The word Cerne is believed to be derived from the Celtic God Cernunnos .The Abbey which forms the second part of the name was founded in 987.

The abbey then dominated the history of the area up until the Reformation as it owned a huge amount of land in the area and as landlord collected tithes from the smallholders,a tithe being a proportion of the produce each one produced.

In 1539 the Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII with the ownership passing to a series of private landlords who then stripped the abbey of it's assets.

The 17th century saw a recovery in the fortune of Cerne Abbas though it did not escape the effects of the Civil War being occupied at various stages by Royalists and Parliamentarians.

There is a connection to the USA being a reference in the Church to the Notley family early settlers of America who owned land in Washington DC including Capitol Hill.

The water that runs through the village was so good that it started to produce it's own beer.At one stage there were 17 inns though today there are three,The Royal Oak the Gian's Inn and the New Inn .The later was closed at the time of writing ( November 2011) as it is undergoing refurbishment.

If you arriving by car from Dorchester then turn right into The Folly which then becomes Long Street the main street through the village.On this street are the three pubs as well as the village shop and tea rooms.

You need to turn left up Abbey Street past the Church of St Mary. to get to what is left of the Abbey.

The Church is interesting in that the windows are not stained letting in much more light than in any church I have ever been in.Wish they were all like that.

There is some very nice housing at the end of the street once part of the Abbey but now in private ownership the most notable being the South Gate House.Behind this house there is a short walk to the remains of the Abbots Porch.

cerne abbas abbey

Parking can be a bit of a problem in Cerne Abbas so there is a free car park which you can reach by going up Duck Street off Long Street.

From here is a short walk to a viewing area from which you can see the thing for which the village is famous, The Giant a 150 foot high chalk figure carved into the hill side.

There is dispute as to the age of the giant some believing he is a representation of the Greek God Hercules however there is no written record of him before 1694 suggesting he is depicts a much later figure perhaps a caricature of Oliver Cromwell.

Whatever his age he is controversial on account of his giant phallus!

Please note that the giant is owned by the National Trust who have erected a fence around the site.A sign asks people not to climb the fence and walk on the giant in order to prevent erosion.

In any event you cannot really make out the giant when you are right next to him as I found out so just enjoy the view from the car park next to the A 352.

After viewing the Giant you can walk back along the river into Cerne Abbas and have a lunch in the Abbots Tear Rooms on Long Street or one of the two pubs currently open the Royal Oak or the Giant's Inn.

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