Cerne Abbas

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1952.

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'Cerne Abbas', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West, (London, 1952) pp. 74-85. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXXI, N.W. (b)XXXI, S.W.)

Cerne Abbas is a parish and village 7 m. N. of Dorchester. The church, remains of the abbey, the tithe-barn, the houses in Church Street, the Cerne Giant and the remains of early settlements are the principal monuments.


a(1) Parish Church of St. Mary (Plates 100, 122) stands in the village. The walls are of stone and flint rubble with some ashlar and freestone dressings; the roofs are lead-covered. The Chancel was built probably c. 1300. About the middle of the 15th century the N. and S. arcades of the Nave were built and the North and South Aisles and South Porch added, the S. side being perhaps slightly the earlier; later in the same century the chancel-screen was erected. The West Tower was added c.1500 when the W. ends of the aisles and the W. bay of the arcades were rebuilt; the clearstorey was added c. 1530 and the W. part of the N. wall of the N. aisle was rebuilt at the same time. In 1639 the E. end of the chancel was pulled down and the present E. wall was built, W. of the earlier E. end. The porch was restored and partly rebuilt in 1696. A wall above the screen was removed and the existing arch built in 1870, when the church was restored and part of the S. wall of the S. aisle refaced. The architect for the restorations and additions was T. H. Wyatt.

The W. tower is a good example of its period and among the fittings the screen, paintings and pulpit are noteworthy.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (22¾ ft. by 19¾ ft.) has a 17th-century E. wall with a reset 15th-century window of six cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a segmental-pointed head and moulded reveals; the splays and rear-arch have trefoil-headed panels; in the lowest panel on the N. is the date 1639; the internal sill is enriched with paterae. In the N. wall is a window of c. 1300 of one trefoiled light with a moulded label and weathered head-stops. In the S. wall is a similar window, now blocked; further W. are the E. splay and rear-arch of a doorway perhaps of the same date and partly destroyed by the arcade. The 15th-century N. and S. arcades are continuous in the chancel and nave and are of five bays, with moulded two-centred arches and moulded piers each with four attached shafts having moulded capitals and bases; the responds have attached half-piers; the E. bay on each side is wider than the rest and the screen was inserted at a slightly later date; the W. bay was rebuilt when the tower was added. The chancel-arch is modern.

Cerne Abbas, the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin

The Nave (45¼ ft. by 20¼ ft.) includes the four W. bays of the arcades. The 16th-century clearstorey has, on each side, three windows each of three four-centred lights in a square head; on the soffit of the two western windows on the S. side are the initials T.A., perhaps for Thomas Corton, last Abbot of Cerne.

The North Aisle (10¾ ft. wide) has a 15th-century E. window of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label with head-stops. In the N. wall are five windows, the three to the E. being uniform with that in the E. wall; the other two are similar in date and detail to the windows of the clearstorey; the western part of the wall, enclosing these two windows, is of the same date and is faced with alternate courses of ashlar and flint. The late 15th or early 16th-century W. wall has a window of three cinque-foiled ogee lights with tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and a label with head-stops; the N.W. angle has a semi-octagonal buttress and the raking embattled parapet has carved corbels or gargoyles supporting pinnacles to each merlon, but the top of the anglepinnacle has been removed. Adjoining the angle is a late 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred arch with foliage-spandrels.

The South Aisle (10¼ ft. wide) has an E. window similar to that in the N. aisle but with a modern label. In the S. wall are four windows, the three to the E. being similar to the E. window of the aisle, but two with varying tracery; the westernmost window is modern; between the two easternmost windows is a 15th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head; it is now blocked; the 15th-century S. doorway has double-chamfered jambs and two-centred head; against the W. part of the wall there was, till recently, a house and the facing has been renewed; adjoining the S.W. angle is a length of early 16th-century wall and a doorway, in connection with this destroyed building; the doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with traceried spandrels; the reveals and soffit have trefoil-headed panels. The W. wall is similar to the corresponding wall of the N. aisle and has a similar window; the pinnacles of the parapet are missing.

The West Tower (11 ft. by 12 ft.) is of late 15th or early 16th-century date and of three stages (Plate 100) with octagonal projections at the angles, a moulded plinth and an embattled parapet with quatre-foiled panels, pinnacles at the angles and the stumps of pinnacles in the middle of each side, standing on carved figures; the N.W. stair-turret rises above the parapet and has a central and eight subsidiary pinnacles. The E. tower-arch is moulded and two-centred and springs from shafted responds; the reveals and soffit have two bays of panelling with cinque-foiled ogee heads. The N. and S. walls have similar but smaller arches. The W. door way has moulded jambs and two-centred arch in a square head with traceried spandrels; flanking the doorway are panelled standards, set diagonally; the W. window is of four cinque-foiled ogee and transomed lights with tracery in a two-centred head, with moulded reveals and label with head and beast-stops; in the external reveals are two brackets and canopies for images, now missing; the brackets are carved with half-angels holding shields, one bearing a device of interlaced cheverons. The second stage has in the N. wall a window of two trefoiled lights, with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a label and head-stops. In the W. wall is a tall niche, with a moulded bracket, resting on a half-angel holding a scroll, side-standards, and a three-sided crocketed and spired canopy terminating in an angel holding a shield; in the niche is a carved figure of the Virgin and Child (Plate 10). Above this stage is a double string-course with a band of quatrefoils enclosing paterae or shields; three of these bear (a) a cross charged with five cinquefoils, (b) three cloud-bursts or wounds or escallops and (c) vair for Beauchamp of Hatch (?). The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of three trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a four-centred head with moulded reveals and label with head-stops; below the transoms are cinque-foiled ogee heads; the lights are filled with pierced stone slabs of varying design with monograms S S and W. (O ?), Stafford knots and scrolls; tied back to the sills are free-standing standards, set diagonally and resting on corbels carved with grotesque beasts and a man with bagpipes and a monkey on his shoulder also playing an instrument.

The South Porch has a 15th-century outer archway with moulded jambs and four-centred head. A panel in the embattled parapet bears the inscription "C.W. Willi. Tulledge, Tho. Dussell, 1696"

The Roof of the chancel is of the 17th century and of three bays with cambered tie-beams. The 16th-century roof of the nave is of seven bays with tie-beams supporting short king and queen-posts.

Fittings—Bells: five; 1st, 2nd and 3rd by Thomas Bilbie, 1762; 4th by William Knight, 1747; 5th by R. Purdue, 1631, cracked. Brasses: In chancel—on screen, (1) to Joseph, son of George and Edeth Sommers, 1702–3, inscription only. In nave—(2) to John Notley, jun., 1626, inscription only; (3) to John Notley, 1612–3, inscription only. Loose in vestry— (4) to Richard Bartlett, 1715–6, and Ann, his wife, 1742–3, inscription only. Candelabrum (Plate 11): In nave—stem with two globes, urn and flame finial and two tiers of branches, third quarter of the 18th century. Chest: In chancel—of hutch-type, panelled front with moulded and enriched rails and styles, 17th-century, two later; locks. In vestry—of iron inscribed with the date 1817 and names of church-wardens. Churchyard Cross: In churchyard on abbey-site, remains of octagonal stone shaft set in octagonal base with hollow-chamfered plinth, probably 15th-century. Coffin and Lid: In S. aisle—stone coffin with shaped head; lid with ornamental incised cross and stepped calvary, 13th-century. Communion Rails: with moulded rails and turned balusters, late 17th or early 18th-century. Communion Table: In S. aisle—with turned and enriched legs, carved top-rails, initials and date B.K. 1638 W.S. cut on front edge of top. Font: octagonal bowl with chamfered under edge, probably mediæval, stem and base modern. Glass: In chancel—in E. window, numerous late 14th-century shields-of-arms, some fragments made up into shields with modern glass; (a) Browning impaling Newburgh, (b) or a cheveron between three leopards’ heads gules (one missing), (c) fragments, (d) Wickham, (e) fragments, (f) Berkeley, (g) gules fretty argent on a quarter sable, a fret or, (h) damaged coat Bulkley quartering Zouch, the whole impaling Browning quartering Matravers, (i) Parnham (?), (j) fragment, (k) England, (l) fragment, (m) Browning, (n) much damaged, probably Bingham impaling Baskett, (o) Turges, (p) Fitzhugh, also 15th-century fragments including a rose and a man's head. In N. aisle—in W. window, two fleurs-de-lis and a shield-of-arms of the See of Exeter, early 16th-century. In W. window of S. aisle— sun and fleurs-de-lis, 15th-century. Monuments: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to Thomas Cockeram, 1862, his wife Anne, 1847, and two sons, white marble walltablet in Gothic framing. In N. aisle—on N. wall, (2) to Dr. William Cockeram, 1679–80, framed oak panel with broken pediment and painted achievement-of-arms; (3) to Mary (Tulledge) wife of Robert Farr, 1720, his daughter Elizabeth, 1722, Robert Farr the elder, 1741, and his great-grandson Charles Farr the younger, 1754, vari-coloured marble wall-tablet with apron, pediment and urn. In S. aisle—on S. wall, (4) to Philip Watson, alderman of Dublin, 1661, Samuel Ebenezer, 1667, Priscilla, 1667, and James, 1670, children of Samuel Watson, vicar, framed oak panel with painted achievement-of-arms; (5) to Elizabeth Foord, 1766, Robert Foord senior, 1768, and Robert Foord, 1771, white marble and stone wall-tablet with apron, pediment and urn; (6) to Susanna Turner, 1750, and George Turner, 1750, wall-monument of stone and slate with apron, cherub's head, shaped pediment and urn; (7) to Samuel Randall, 1785, his wife Elizabeth, 1769, and others later, black and white marble wall-monument with side pilasters, apron, cornice, urn and a cartouche with painted arms much faded, a coronet and crest; (8) to Thomas Boys, 1774, and others, white marble wall-tablet with cornice and urn. In churchyard on site of abbey—(9) to Edward White, 1671, headstone; (10) to Gorg White, late 17th-century, table-tomb; (11) to Richard Ovesell, 1709 (?), head-stone; (12) to Walter Dussel, 1619, table-tomb; (13) to Elizabeth Cockeram, 1665 (?), headstone; S. of cross, (14) to John Summers, 1679 (?), headstone; (15) to Judith (Sherrey), wife of William Forse, 1670, headstone; (16) to Sarah, daughter of William Sherrey, 1662, and to William Sherrey, 1680, headstone; (17) to Anne, daughter of Richard Dowding, 1694, and to Richard Dowding, 1694, double headstone; (18) to Sarah (Rotwell), wife of George Coombs (?), early 18th-century, headstone; further E., (19) to Robert Thomas, 1685, headstone; (20) to John Hodges, 1710, and John, 1698, and James, 1712, his grandsons, table-tomb; (21) to Robert White, 1753, table-tomb with emblems of mortality; (22) to Mary, daughter of Thomas Combs, 1713, and later inscriptions, table-tomb; (23) to Philip Romen, 1668, and Phil, daughter of Nath. Ryall, 1744, table-tomb. Paintings: In chancel —on N. wall and E. splay of window—four scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist (Plate 26), (a) St. John rebuking Herod and Herodias, (b) the Execution with Salome receiving the head on a charger, (c) the Baptism of Christ, with attendant figures including an angel holding a robe, (d) an entombment probably of St. John, with figures in background, two defaced subjects above, late 14th-century, some heads retouched. In nave—on N. wall, fragments of black-letter inscriptions with the date 1679. In N. aisle—on N. wall, painted panels with texts from Romans XIII, 1, and Ephesians V, 22, 23, 17th-century. In S. aisle—over S. doorway, similar texts, 17th-century. In N. aisle—on first pier of N. arcade, oak panel with painted bust of Christ, with the inscription "This similitude of our Saviour Christ Jesus was founde in Amarald and sent from ye great Turk to Pope Innocent the 8 to redeem the brother which was taken prisoner by the Romans", probably 17th-century, a late example of a group of English paintings deriving from 16th-century Italian medals with a bust of Christ on the obverse and a similar inscription in Latin on the reverse. In chancel—on N. wall, incised marigold pattern in a circle painted red, mediæval, perhaps a consecration cross. Panelling: At back of pulpit— some mutilated linen-fold panels, early 16th-century. Piscina: In chancel—recess with trefoiled ogee head enriched with small roses, label and finial cut back, square drain, 14th-century probably not in situ. Plate: includes a cup and paten of 1767 and a pewter plate probably of early 18th-century date. Pulpit (Plate 101): of oak, octagonal with enriched rails and cornice, two tiers of enriched arcaded panels; sounding-board, octagonal with enriched pendant arch on each face and cornice; soffit with radiating panels and central pendant; supporting standard at back with enriched pilasters at sides and two enriched panels, the lower with an arch and the upper with the date 1640 on a shield. Screen: Between chancel and nave—of stone with a central doorway and six lights on each side, doorway with hollow-chamfered jambs and four-centred head, and above it four cinque-foiled lights, similar heads to side lights, 15th-century, cornice modern. Seating: In nave—two coffin-stools with turned legs, 17th-century. Stoup: In tower— S. of W. doorway, recess in wall with front of bowl cut away, mediæval. Miscellanea: In S. aisle— fragments of pinnacles. On S. aisle—W. of porch, large grotesque face with open mouth, 15th-century reset gargoyle. In second stage of tower—15th-century fragment with quatre-foiled panelling; fragments of 13th-century columns; piece of lead with the names of the churchwardens and the date 1682. In church enclosure—at S.W. angle, stone wall with plinth bearing the initials and date I.H. and F. (or E.) H. 1576.

The Churchyard, at the N. end of the village, is entered by a 17th-century gateway with moulded jambs, round arch and panelled imposts; flanking it are shell-headed niches and the wall is capped by three plain pinnacles.


a(2) Cerne Abbey, remains, porch, outbuildings and earthworks at the N. end of the village. Apart from the legendary visit of St. Augustine to Cerne there is evidence of the existence of a monastery here in the latter part of the 9th century. It was refounded on the Benedictine model by Ethelmaer, Earl of Cornwall, c. 987 and dedicated to St. Mary, St. Peter and St. Benedict. It was dissolved in 1539 when the revenue amounted to £575.17.10¼ a year. The main block of the conventual buildings was destroyed at an early date and no record survives of the former dimensions or appearance of the church and claustral buildings.

The Church seems to have stood on the eastern part of the present graveyard where portions of tile-pavement have from time to time come to light. On the S. side is the well traditionally connected with the visit of St. Augustine. It forms a rectangular pool with a late masonry enclosure and set up on its W. side are two 17th or 18th-century stone supports of a former bench or table. Bounding the well on the E. and N. are rubble walls of mediæval date and now reduced to the core only except that in the angle a portion of the facing survives. It has been conjectured that these walls formed the angle between the nave and S. transept of the abbey-church. There is evidence that the church was rebuilt in the 12th century but little or no recognisable material of this date survives. A Purbeck marble effigy of an abbot, found on the site and dating from the early part of the 13th century, is preserved in the Farnham Museum, Dorset. The Cloister and main conventual buildings must have occupied the flat ground to the N. of the churchyard, but no trace, even of foundation-mounds, survives on the site.

The surviving buildings of the abbey consist of the porch to the Abbot's Hall, a building called the Guest House to the S. and a barn or outbuilding to the N.

Cerne Abbey, Porch to Abbots Hall

The Abbot's Hall was built by Abbot Thomas Sam (1497–1509). It has been destroyed except for the porch and the adjoining portion of the W. wall of the hall. These are of local rubble with ashlar and free-stone dressings. The hall stood N. and S. but the length and width are indeterminate. The doorway from the porch has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with traceried spandrels enclosing shields-of-arms of the Duchy of Cornwall and the abbey. Above the doorway is an internal string-course carved with a Tudor rose, a beast and foliage; in the angle with the former N. wall is a grouped wallshaft with foliated capitals and chamfered bases resting on a half-angel holding a shield; about 12 ft. to the S. is a second grouped wall-shaft of similar character; they presumably supported the timber wall-posts of the roof. Higher in the wall is a late 16th-century window of three square-headed lights with a label, the wall above sets back about three feet, perhaps for a wall-walk. The Porch (Plate 105) is of three storeys with diagonal buttresses and a modern embattled parapet. The outer entrance has moulded jambs and four-centred arch with a label and beast-stops. Above the entrance is a two storeyed oriel-window resting on deep moulded corbelling; the front window on the first floor is a modern restoration except for the outer moulded jambs; the returns have each a window of one cinque-foiled ogee light; at the angles are shafts or buttresses springing from half-angels holding banners with the arms a cross paty for Latimer (?) and three wounds or cloud-bursts; below the window is a range of quatre-foiled panels enclosing shields-of-arms and with enriched string-courses above and below; the arms are:—(a) Duchy of Cornwall; (b) France and England quarterly; (c) Daubeney in a garter; (d) the Abbey; (e) Fitz-James; (f) Latimer (?); (g) Newburgh (?) with a label impaling a border engrailed with a bend over all; (h) Newburgh (?) impaling Wadham. The second floor has a window of three cinque-foiled lights on the face and one on each return; below it is a band of quatre-foiled panels enclosing shields and string-courses with carved paterae; the shields bear:—(a) Tudor rose; (b) portcullis; (c) rebus presumably of Abbot Thomas Sam, a T. with a crozier and a salmon; (d) an O with an owl above, probably for Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter; (e) Uvedale quartering Scures (?); (f) Martin of Athelhampton; (g) a bray or brake for Bray (?). The porch has a damaged fan-vaulted roof, the cones springing from moulded and foliated corbels; the cones have trefoil-headed panels and the spandrel has cusped panelling and a damaged central shield with the rebus of Abbot Sam; at the main intersections are foliage-bosses. In the S. wall of the porch is a cruciform loop, now blocked. In the N. wall are two blocked windows to the porter's room. The Porter's Lodging is of two storeys with a pent-roof. The ground-floor is entered by a doorway from the stair-turret on the E. with a four-centred head. In the W. wall is a window of one four-centred light and a fireplace with a four-centred head. The upper room has a W. window of two plain lights and a fireplace in the S. wall, similar to that on the ground floor.

Cerne Abbas, Plan Shewing the Position of Monuments

The ‘Guest House’ stands on the N. side of the graveyard at its W. end. It is of two storeys and was built in the 15th century. It has been suggested that this was the earlier Abbot's Lodging. The building was presumably done by Abbot John Vanne (1458–70) whose initials appear on a fireplace removed from the building and now in the Abbey Farm. The gabled W. wall is faced with alternate courses of knapped flint and stone. It has a doorway of c. 1500 with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with foliage-spandrels and a label; N. of it is a 15th-century window of two trefoiled lights in a square head; on the first floor is a 15th-century window of two pointed lights with tracery in a two-centred head. The N. wall retains the E. side of a 15th-century doorway with a two-centred head; set partly in the blocking is a later 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head with a label and returned stops; further W. is a 15th-century window of two trefoiled lights. Towards the E. end of the wall are the remains of three original windows. Near the middle of the wall on the first floor is a 15th-century oriel-window, restored and reset; each of the three faces has a window of two trefoiled and transomed lights; the oriel rests on moulded corbelling and has buttresses at the angles; on either side of the oriel are two windows, all four originally similar to one window of the oriel, but mostly lacking the mullion and transom. The S. wall formerly extended further to the E. and in the broken end is the jamb of a former window. Inside the building is a large inserted chimney-stack of the 15th century; there are remains of various blocked and altered windows. In the W. room is an early 16th-century moulded ceiling-beam, but the floor of the room above has been otherwise removed.

The Barn, 130 yards N.N.W. of the ‘Guest House’, is of seven bays with a much repaired roof of collar-beam type. The walls are of chalk and stone rubble. The barn was built probably in the 15th century, but the porches are modern. The gabled S. wall has a doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred head; above it is a fragment carved with 13th-century foliage. The W. wall formerly extended further to the S. and in the broken end is the jamb of a former archway. In the E. wall are two loop-lights.

Much of the materials of the abbey has been reused in various houses in the village. Amongst these the most important are the 15th-century remains, perhaps of a reredos, with elaborate vaulted canopy work and pedestals; these stones are built into the wall W. of the New Inn, into the W. front of the house, Barnwells, in Abbey Street (Monument 5) and preserved in the same house. Other fragments of various dates are to be found in the yard of the New Inn (mainly 13th-century), on the first floor of a house in Long Street 60 yards S. of the church and in the modern entrance gateway to the churchyard. In the house Barnwells are some mediæval slip-tiles with conventional foliage and shields vair and fretty.

The Tithe Barn, see Monument 25.

The Earthworks immediately N.E. of the abbey-site appear to consist of a series of enclosures with well-marked banks and ditches. Their general form is shown on the plan (p. 80). In the enclosures at the S.E. end are three well-preserved circular mounds each surrounded by a ditch and each within a separate enclosure. The purpose of these mounds and enclosures has not been explained.

a(3) Abbey Farm, house N.W. of the detached churchyard, incorporates part of the abbey-buildings, but was burnt about the middle of the 18th century and largely reconstructed after that date, except for a wing of c. 1500 at the N.E. angle. The house is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of stone and flint in bands and the roofs are covered with stone slates. The S. wing with its S.E. buttress is probably partly of the 15th century and may have been part of the abbey gatehouse. The windows and the ashlar are mostly reused material from the earlier building, the windows being of three and four lights with labels. On the N. side are two blocked doorways with four-centred heads and the doorway in use is of the 16th century reset; it has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head; just to the E. of it is the W. jamb and spring of an archway, now blocked. The N.E. wing has some 16th-century stone-mullioned windows and the modern doorway is set in a window of the same character. Inside the building the S.E. room has a reset 15th-century fireplace (Plate 46) from the so-called guesthouse; it has moulded jambs and square head above which is a band of quatre-foiled diagonal panels enclosing paterae and a monogram of I.V. with a doctor's cap (?), presumably for John Vanne, abbot, 1458–70; the fireplace is finished with a moulded cornice with carved paterae. In a gardenwall is a reset 15th-century doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred head.

Earthwork in the Precints of Cerne Abbey

a(4) Bridge, 170 yards N.W. of (3), is a rubble structure of stone and flint of one span with an arch of irregular form. It dates from the 17th century or earlier.

a(5) Range of Houses (Plates 102, 104) on the W. side of Abbey Street is of two storeys; the walls are of stone and timber-framing and the roofs are covered with stone slates. The whole range was built c. 1500, the individual tenements being separated by stone partywalls with elaborately moulded corbelling at the level of the projecting upper storey; the two tenements between Nos. 1 and 2 have been pulled down, but the party-walls survive; other tenements have been considerably altered. No. 1 retains its timber-framed and plastered front with its projecting upper storey. No. 2 (Barnwells), formerly the Nag's Head Inn, has a similar front to No. 1, but has curved brackets under the first floor projection. It has 18th-century alterations including the bay-window, the staircase and the entry. Inside the building are two original fireplaces with four-centred heads and some plank-partitions. No. 3 is similar, but has no curved brackets to the overhang. Inside the building are exposed ceiling-beams, some plankpartitions and the roof retains a curved wind-brace. No. 4 has the timber-framing of the front exposed; the stone-corbelling between this and No. 3 has carved paterae, the initial B and blank shields. Inside the building are some original moulded ceiling-beams and a fireplace with a heavy chamfered lintel. No. 5 has a front similar to No. 4; the doorway has an original moulded ogee head with blind tracery above including two quatrefoils enclosing flowers; there was a similar door-head to the passage between this and the next house, but it has been destroyed except the head-beam. The windows retain some original work. Inside the building are two original fireplaces.

Monuments (6–27)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with thatch or modern materials. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original fireplaces.

a(6) House, immediately S. of (5), is of stone and brick. It was refronted early in the 18th century and has a brick band between the storeys and a modillioned eaves-cornice; the doorway has a large shell-hood resting on two columns. Reset in the back wing is a stone corbel with a human figure. Inside the building, one room is lined with early 18th-century bolection-moulded panelling and there is a fireplace and over mantel of similar character on the first floor. There is also some later 18th-century panelling and a staircase of the same period. In a garden-wall is an early 16th-century moulded bressummer with the initials T.I.G.

a(7) House, on the W. side of Abbey Street 80 yards N.N.W. of the church, is of flint, brick and rubble partly plastered. It was built in the first half of the 18th century. There is a round-headed doorway with fluted side pilasters supporting a pediment and over it on the first floor a Venetian window with its tympanum filled in and painted to resemble a fan-light. The other windows have flush frames.

a(8) Cottage, on the E. side of Abbey Street 40 yards N. of the church, is of flint-rubble and timber-framing. It was built perhaps late in the 16th century and the upper storey projects in front. Inside the building is a stone fireplace with an elliptical head.

a(9) Cottage, 15 yards S. of the church, was built perhaps early in the 18th century, but has been much altered.

a(10) Royal Oak Inn, 40 yards S. of the church, was built early in the 16th century. There are some original shaped brackets supporting the eaves on the N. side. Inside the building, one room has original moulded ceiling-beams and a stone fireplace with a four-centred head.

a(11) Cottage, now farm-building, 70 yards E. of the church, retains an original window of four lights with an oak frame. The structure is dilapidated.

The Barn, 20 yards E., has walls of coursed flints and stone with ashlar quoins.

a(12) Alton Road Cottages, ¼ mile E.N.E. of the church, of rubble and brick, are initialled and dated J.C. 1834.

a(13) Cottage, on the S. side of Long Street 20 yards S.W. of (11), was built probably early in the 18th century.

a(14) House, 80 yards W.S.W. of (13), has been much altered. One room has moulded ceiling-beams.

a(15) Houses, two, 30 yards W. of (14); that to the E., formerly the Bell Inn, is faced with bands of clunch and flint; it retains two original windows of four lights with labels. The house immediately W. has an 18th-century wing at the back.

a(16) New Inn, 20 yards W. of (15), has modern additions at the back. The front (Plate 104) retains its original stone windows though some have had the mullions removed; the lower windows have moulded labels. The arched entrance to the carriage-way was altered in the 19th century. Inside the building there are some original moulded ceiling-beams.

a(17) House, on the corner of Duck Street and the Folly, much altered in the 19th century, has a shop front (Plate 103) of c. 1800 symmetrically designed round the street-corner of the building. The doorway with reeded side-pilasters is on the angle and bowwindows supported on wood corbels flank it on the N.E. and S.E. fronts of the house; a continuous cornice breaks forward over the door.

a(18) House, set back on the N. side of Long Street 60 yards S.W. of the church, is of brick in Flemish bond. It was built in the first half of the 18th century, the window sashes are modern insertions. The doorway has side pilasters with broken pediment and the windows have gauged-brick voussoirs and keys. There is a dentilled eaves-cornice and a low mansard roof.

a(19) House, on the corner of Duck Street and Long Street, built probably early in the 19th century, contains a shop-front (Plate 103) of that date consisting of two flat windows flanking a central doorway all in a framing of reeded pilasters with a simple cornice; immediately above is a balcony with a light iron balustrade of net design supported on slender shaped brackets.

a(20) House, on the N.E. side of Duck Street 140 yards W.S.W. of the church, has a wing at the back dated 1795.

a(21) Cottage, 15 yards N.W. of (20).

a(22) Shop and two adjoining tenements, on the W. side of Duck Street 1/8 m. W. of the church, are of 17th-century origin refronted later. The older parts are of flint and stone rubble plastered over and the later of brick in Flemish bond. The building is initialled and dated C.R.I.R. 1784, probably referring to the new front. There are some original two and three-light windows with wood frames; the 18th-century windows have segmental heads.

a(23) Cottage, on the S. side of the street 200 yards S.W. of the church, is of rubble and brick partly rendered. It retains three original windows on the first floor of two lights with moulded jambs and mullions.

a(24) Barton Farm, house ¼ m. S.W. of the church, is faced with alternate bands of flint and stone. The N. front retains two original windows of three and four lights with labels. The Stable, N. of the house, is of late 17th-century date.

a(25) Tithe Barn (Plate 55), now partly a house, 50 yards N.E. of (24), was built, as a one storey building, about the middle of the 14th century. It has been very considerably reduced in length at the N. end and the surviving portion is of nine bays with a porch on each side. It was partly converted into a dwelling-house in the 18th century and has been restored late in the 19th century. The walls have a chamfered plinth and weathered buttresses and are faced with knapped flints. The porches have outer entrances with double chamfered jambs, segmental arches and labels; the inner entrances are of similar form; the side-walls of the porches each have, or had, a doorway with double chamfered jambs and two-centred head. The windows of the S. part of the building are 18th-century insertions, but the N. part of the building retains its original loops with pointed rear-arches. At the N. end of the building there are remains of a destroyed doorway in the E. wall and a doorway covered by a porch in the W. wall.

a(26) Cottage, on the W. side of the road 50 yards N. of the Sydling road, has an extension of 1727 on the N. The front is faced with bands of flint and stone.

a(27) Range of ten tenements, on the E. side of Acreman Street 400 yards W. of the church, is of differing materials: brick, flint, dressed flint and stone. The N. tenement is of 17th-century origin and retains some original two and three-light windows with wood frames, the eighth tenement from the N. is initialled and dated J.T. 1832 W.N.3.


a(28) The Cerne Giant (Plate 107) is a turf-cut figure on the S.W. end of Giant Hill ¼ m. N. of the church. The figure is outlined by cuttings now about 2 ft. deep. It represents a nude man (height of figure 180 ft.) striding towards the left; he holds a knotted club in the right hand and has the left arm stretched out; the nipples and ribs are boldly represented as is the phallus. The figure, according to Hutchins, had letters or figures between the legs of doubtful significance and date. The figure has been repaired and recut at various periods, a general repair having taken place in 1887. Whether the outstretched left arm originally carried a lion-skin or cloak is now impossible to say; but the general resemblance of the figure to that of a Roman Hercules is sufficient to suggest the probability of a Romano-British origin. There is some evidence that the traditional local name of the god was Helis or Helith. (Gentleman's Magazine (1764), XXXIV; J. Hutchins, History of Dorset (1774); Sir Flinders Petrie, Hill Figures of England (1926); Stuart Piggott, in Antiquity (1932), VI, and (1938), XII; Morris Marples, White Horses and other Hill Figures (1949)).

a(29) Earthwork, called the Trendle (Plate 107), immediately to the E. and above (28), forms a roughly rectangular enclosure (for plan, see preface, p. xxxiv). It consists of an outer bank with a slight outer ditch on the N. and E. and an inner bank with a slight inner ditch. The inner bank is of sharper profile and more regular form and is presumably of later date; it is indeed stated to have been a hedge-bank (Antiquity, IV, 113). Within the enclosure is a rise in the ground of quite irregular form. The enclosure is said to have been used for Maypole dancing.

a(30) Bank and Barrow about 200 yards N. of (29). The bank extends for about 100 yards across the ridgetop; it is at most about 4½ ft. high and has a modern gap near the middle. There is a slight ditch on the N. side. The bowl barrow, immediately to the S. of the bank, is about 35 ft. in diam. and 4 ft. high.

Settlement on Giant Hill in the Parish of Cerne Abbas

a(31) Settlement and Barrow, on Giant Hill about 600 yards N.N.E. of (28). The settlement consists of a series of banks and enclosures shown on the accompanying plan. The greater strength of the main crossbank may indicate that it was originally a bank across the ridge-top, similar to that described under (30), and that it was subsequently incorporated in the settlement. The oval enclosure, S.W. of this bank, is about 45 yards by 35 yards and has two entrances. Outside it are traces of two hut-circles and there are remains of a third outside the main bank. There are numerous pits mostly between the main dyke and that under (30). One of these impinges on and is presumably later than the ditch of the oval enclosure. To the N.E. of the settlement are remains of a Celtic field-system and about 150 yards N.E. of the main bank is a bowl barrow about 38 ft. in diam. and 2¾ ft. high; it has been disturbed.

Settlements on Black Hill in the Parish of Cerne Abbas

a(32) Settlements and Barrow, on Black Hill ½ m. S.E. of the village, form two groups. The eastern settlement includes a roughly triangular enclosure (with a side of about 30 yards) with convex sides, traces perhaps of a rectangular enclosure to the N. and a series of banks forming part of a Celtic field-system, all shown on the accompanying plan A. There are traces of various sinkings presumably pits. About 150 ft. N.E. of the triangular enclosure is an oval sinking 27 ft. by 21 ft. with a slight rise in the middle. About 250 yards S.S.W. of the same enclosure is a bowl barrow about 55 ft. in diam. and 7 ft. high; it has been disturbed at the top. The western settlement, about 600 yards to the W., is rather better defined. On the N. side is a small enclosure, about 26 yards by 28 yards, with internal platforms forming three levels. It is entered on the S. side from a roadway. To the S.W. is a hut-circle apparently with an annexe on the S. Other depressions and the adjoining banks of the Celtic fieldsystem are shown on the accompanying plan B.

Settlement on Smacam Down in the Parish of Cerne Abbas

a(33) Settlement and Barrows (Plate 106) on Smacam Down 1¼ m. S.W. of the church. The settlement has a four-sided enclosure (about 50 yards by 40 yards) on the E. side, with a hut-circle of about 34 ft. in diameter in the middle. It is surrounded by a Celtic field-system of which the adjoining parts are shown on the accompanying plan. The next bank to the W. of the enclosure is of heavier construction than the others and is about 5 ft. high above the ditch which runs along its W. side. About 60 yards N.E. of the enclosure is a bowl barrow 36 ft. in diam. and 2¾ ft. high. About 50 yards W. of the enclosure is a mound, probably a long barrow (No. 138 in O.S. Map of Neolithic Wessex); it is 98 ft. long and its greatest width, towards the S. end, is 54 ft. The greatest height is 5 ft. and there is a ditch all round, but it has been partly destroyed on the S. by the later field boundary. The axis is nearly N. and S. A Celtic fieldsystem extends both to the E., S. and W. of the settlement and there are further traces some 600 yards to the N. and N.W.

a(34) Settlement and Barrow, on Dickley Hill over ¾ m. S.W. of the church. The settlement is defended on the E. side by a scarp, ditch and outer bank extending for over 200 yards and having an entrance towards the S. end. This entrance seems to have had the bank turned slightly outwards on each side. About 150 yards to the W. is a small bank nearly parallel to that described, but only extending for half the distance. Between the two is what may be the remains of an oval enclosure with sub-divisions, but only the N. half has survived. Remains of various hut-circles and sinkings are shown on the accompanying plan. About 150 yards to the E. of the entrance is a bowl barrow 23 ft. in diam. and 1½ ft. high. There are extensive remains of a Celtic field-system to the E. of the site.

a(35) Settlement, on Weam Common Hill about 1,100 yards W.N.W. of the church, is much less defined than those described above. There is, however, an extensive Celtic field-system with traces of a roadway running E. and W. Immediately to the S. of the bank shown on the O.S. are remains of a hut-circle and some other sinkings.

a(36) Mound, over ¾ m. E. of the church, is 38 ft. in diam. and ¾ ft. high.

a and b(37) Barrows, on a spur of Green Hill 1 m. S.S.E. of the church, are five in number and nearly in a line. The northernmost (a) is 20 ft. in diam. and 1½ ft. high; (b) bowl barrow, 150 yards to the S., is 34 ft. in diam. and 3 ft. high; it has been disturbed in the middle; (c) bowl barrow, 70 yards S. of (b), is 44 ft. in diam. and 4 ft. high; (d), 70 yards S. of (c), is 17 ft. in diam. and ¾ ft. high; (e) bowl barrow, 80 yards S. of (d), is 32 ft. in diam. and 3 ft. high.

a and b(38) Celtic Field-Systems, on the S., E. and W. slopes of Green Hill 1 m. S.S.E. of the church.

Settlement on Dickley Hill in the Parish of Cerne Abbas

a(39) Celtic Field-System, on the S.E. and E. slopes of Rowden Hill ¾ m. W. of the church.

a(40) Celtic Field-System, immediately S. of Great Wood in the N.W. corner of the parish.

a(41) Bank and Ditch round Cerne Park, 1 m. W. of the church, encloses an area of about 105 acres. The ditch is within the bank which in places rises to a height of 5½ ft.

a(42) Earthworks, 100 yards S. of the Tithe Barn (25), occupy an area of nearly 8 acres between the main road and the river. They consist of a series of rectangular enclosures of varying size to E. and W. of a trackway, and bounded on the S. by a sunk roadway. At the N. end of the track, on the E. side, is a circular sinking 18 ft. in diam. with vestiges of an outer bank.