Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 07:59 UK

Volunteers help in giant makeover

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How to bring the chalk giant back to life

Volunteers have started work to restore Dorset's Cerne Abbas chalk giant to its former glory.

Conservationists began a makeover on Saturday to re-chalk the 180ft (54m) ancient fertility symbol, which has become obscured by vegetation and moss.

The increased growth has been blamed on the wet summer and shortage of sheep farmers lending their flocks.

The National Trust usually borrows about 100 sheep in May and September to graze the club-wielding figure.

Cerne giant
The giant was disguised in WWII to stop it being used as a landmark

Rob Rhodes, National Trust head warden for west Dorset, said: "It is lovely to see the giant emerge from the countryside.

"You can see his head and club more clearly and see him coming down the hill.

"We have used members of trust staff and hundreds of volunteers with 18 tonnes of chalk being carried up and down by hand.

"It is so important for the village of Cerne Abbas and an icon for the whole country."

Many people believe the figure, which dates back to 1694, is a symbol of ancient spirituality and fertility.

The last re-chalking was in September 2001 but it was brought forward to this year because of the erosion caused by the wet summer.


SEE ALSO
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