Cerne Abbas is a lovely little village located about 8 miles north of Dorchester and 12 miles south of Sherborne in the Cerne Valley in an area known as the Dorset Downs.
See further down the page for information about the village.
Cerne Abbas Giant
The main attraction in the area is the Cerne Abbas Giant, a 55 metre tall naked figure carved into the chalk hillside sporting a rather large “tool” (the club in his hand that is). Many people say it’s a fertility symbol dating back as far as the Iron Age but there’s no evidence that it existed before the 17th century. There are plenty of legends surrounding the Giant but its exact origins are unknown.
The giant is owned by the National Trust although it’s FREE to visit. Please note that the closest you can get is from the footpath along the perimeter fence. You can’t walk on the giant itself as this would cause obvious damage. The view from close by is pretty disappointing really as it’s difficult to make out the shape of the figure. The best place to see it is from a viewpoint on the opposite side of the valley. There’s a free car park here with around 10 spaces – it’s just off the A352 at the junction with Duck Street Sat Nav postcode DT2 7JK (Google map). If you plan to walk up to the giant there is a more convenient car park near the village hall – Kettle Bridge car park DT2 7GY (Google map)
For more information see https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cerne-giant
Cerne Abbas Village
The village streets are lined with historic houses, several excellent pubs, a church and the ruins of an abbey.
The village grew up around a great Benedictine abbey which was founded in AD 987. It was destroyed in 1538 under orders from Henry VIII during the Dissolution on the Monasteries and only a few ruins remain. St. Augustine’s Well (or The Silver Well) also remains and was said to have been blessed by the saint (Google map).
St. Mary’s Church was built by the abbey in the late 13th century for the people of the village. It has been rebuilt several times but still retains many of the original features.
Cerne Abbas is an excellent centre for walking. The well known and picturesque Wessex Ridgeway lies to the north and the Cerne Valley Trail runs through the village – see Dorset Council Cerne Valley Trail pdf leaflet here (external link)