The Cerne Abbas giant, also referred to as the Rude Man or the Rude Giant, is a hill figure of a giant man on a hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas, to the north of Dorchester, in Dorset, England. The 180 ft (55 m) high, 167 ft (51 m) wide figure is carved into the side of a steep hill, and is best viewed from the opposite side of the valley or from the air. The carving is formed by a trench 12 in (30 cm) wide, and about the same depth, which has been cut through grass and earth into the underlying chalk. In his right hand the giant holds a knobbled club 120 ft (37 m) in length. A 1996 study found that some features of the image have changed over time; notably, the study concluded that the figure originally held a cloak in its left arm and stood over a disembodied head.
Artwork - Land Art/Geoglyphs, Objects - Roadside Attractions
The figure's origin and age is unknown. Early antiquarians associated it with a Saxon deity, though there is little evidence for such a connection. Other scholars sought to identify it with a Celtic British figure or the Roman Heracles, or some syncretization of the two. The 1996 discoveries strengthened the identification with Heracles, who was often depicted wielding a club and carrying a cloak made from the Nemean Lion. However, since the first descriptions of the figure do not appear until the mid-18th century, many scholars conclude that it is not significantly older than that. Regardless of its age, the Cerne Abbas giant has become an important part of local culture and folklore, which often associates it with fertility.