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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
First study into Giant's wildlife
Cerne giant (courtesy of freefoto.com)
The Cerne Abbas Giant is thought to be thousands of years old
The first wildlife survey of a famous chalk figure landmark in Dorset got under way on Tuesday.

The National Trust is carrying out a study of the Cerne Abbas Giant in order to find out more about the wild species found at the chalky grassland site.

The trust owns the land around the 180ft (55m) figure, which is believed to be an ancient fertility symbol.

The giant is thought to have been carved in the hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas between 180 and 193 AD.

The Cerne Abbas Giant has a very special place in Dorset folklore and attracts thousands of visitors every year
Simon Ford, National Trust

The trust said it expected that its management of the site over the years will have created conditions for a good selection of wildflowers and butterflies.

It is hoping to find pyramidal and fragrant orchid, clustered bellflower, autumn gentian and butterflies such as adonis and chalkhill blue, small copper and large skipper.

The survey will involve a detailed examination of plants and observation of the better known insects and the results will help the trust decide how to protect the giant and the wildlife around it in the future.

Simon Ford, National Trust Nature conservation adviser, said: "The Cerne Abbas Giant has a very special place in Dorset folklore and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

"We want this survey to be able to tell us more about the wildlife found at the giant to help us manage the site in a way that will allow the butterflies and wildflowers to flourish while preserving its rich archaeological value."

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