Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Giants of the hills

Great figures are incised into the turf of chalk hillsides in many parts of Britain. Some, such as the Uffington Horse [374 feet (110 m)] in Oxon formerly Berks (above), were probably created by Celts around 1000 BC. The horse may represent a god or be the badge of a tribe that worshipped horses.

The male figure at Cerne Abbas in Dorset, long associated with fertility, is thought to be some 1500 years old. According to local lore it is the outline of a giant who terrorised the area, stealing sheep, until the people killed him while he slept, preserving his shape by cutting a line around his body.

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