Fading giant brought back to life

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It is obvious he is a symbol of fertility. The Cerne Abbas Giant usually stands proud on a Dorset hillside overlooking the village from which he takes his name. But over the past 12 months he's been fading. So has it affected his legendary powers?

It's all down to the wet weather encouraging algae, lichen and grass to grow in the chalk trenches of his outline.

But couples wanting to test the fertility legends need not worry - a team of National Trust volunteers is at hand.

It's said that women who sit on the giant will soon become pregnant and women who sleep next to him will have many children. The question is, who would want to?

"People who want children will try anything and it's always worth a go on the giant," says Nancy Grace, archaeologist and Giant expert.

"They may try anything but this is a really steep hill. It's hard enough walking up and trying to sit down, let alone have a good night's sleep."

Huge club

As for sitting on the giant - well if the legend proves correct - there'll be one big baby boom within the National Trust offices over the next 012 months.

No-one's quite sure how this giant came to be naked and armed with a huge club, guarding the villagers of Cerne Abbas.

Some believe he's an ancient god and 1,500 years old. More plausible is that it was created by landowner Lord Denzil Holles back in the 17th Century as a protest against Oliver Cromwell. There certainly are no records before this time.

"It's all a bit of a mystery," admits Nancy Grace. She's been delving through archives, tracing the giant's history back and reaches 1694 - the first written record.

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