Near the English town of Cerne Abbas, the immense figure of a man can be seen outlined on a green hillside. It looks as if it was drawn by a giant with a huge piece of chalk. The human figure is formed by trenches, up to two feet wide, dug into the grassy surface of the hillside so that the white chalk underneath the grass is revealed. Called the Cerne Giant, the figure is 180 feet tall, has a round, hairless head, and holds a club 120 feet long in his hand.
It was once thought that the Cerne Giant was the work of the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles. Some people believed it was the image of a Celtic god. But the oldest mention of the Cerne Giant dates from 1751, and some people believe it was actually drawn in the eighteenth century. A local legend holds that the figure was drawn in 1529 and depicts the abbot of a nearby monastery. We still don’t know when the Cerne Giant was drawn, or why.
A similar figure is drawn on a steep hillside near the English town of Eastbourne. This figure, called the Long Man of Wilmington, is 231 feet tall, has a blank face, and holds a 240-foot staff in each hand. The Long Man was thought to be a prehistoric work, but the first mention of the huge figure dates from 1799. So, like the Cerne Giant, the Long Man of Wilmington was built at an unknown time, for an unknown reason.