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Cerne Abbas

A small, compact village nestling in a valley bottom in the chalk downs to the north of Dorchester – seen here in early January with a dusting of snow still remaining on the north facing slopes of the surrounding hills. A once flourishing town, with a substantial abbey, it appears to have steadily declined in importance from The Dissolution onwards. These days a very popular tourist destination, in part for the many historical buildings but primarily for the 'Giant' carved into the turf on the hillside to the north of the village.

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The age of the Giant is unknown as too is its purpose or significance, the existence of this provocative hill carving only being recorded in documents from the mid-18th century onwards. The distinctive appearance of the sculpture suggests possible links to fertility rites or rituals.


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A further gallery on this site takes you through some of the private gardens in the village, on a mid-summer's day

In the top row of pictures:

  • Cerne Abbas seen from the foot of Weam Common Hill (picture)
  • Looking eastwards down Long St. (picture)
  • Looking back from the eastern end of Long St. (picture)
  • Long St., in the background the church of St. Mary (picture)
  • Medieval buildings fronting the southern end of Abbey St. (picture)

In the bottom row of pictures:

  • Remains of the abbey, porch to the Abbot's hall (picture)
  • Detail of doorway on Abbey St., c.1500 (picture)
  • Doorway on Abbey St. (picture)
  • The Tithe Barn, mid-14th century (picture)
  • The Cerne Abbas 'Giant', date and purpose unknown (picture)

Nearby locations that also feature in galleries on this site:





More views of Dorset in January

Other sites on the web

The National Gardens Scheme:  check for dates when gardens in this area are open to the public

The Dorset Page:   Cerne Abbas – local information and links to further resources on the web

Maps of the area on streetmap.co.uk:   1:50,000 – detail, 1:250,000 – locality and route to get there

picture resolution
The pictures of Cerne Abbas in this gallery were captured at medium resolution.
This is images of dorset stock photography gallery 103
All photographs copyright © 1998–2003 John Allen

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