Earthworks on Giant Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Cerne Abbas
National Grid Reference:
ST 66720 01675, ST 66759 01868, ST 66767 01893, ST 66923 02219


Enclosure, bowl barrow, linear earthwork, Iron Age settlement and part of an associated field system on Giant Hill.

Reasons for Designation

The enclosure, bowl barrow, linear earthwork, Iron Age settlement and part of an associated field system on Giant Hill are an interesting group of monuments, the date and function of which are not entirely known or understood. However, they represent a prolonged use of this distinctive and prominent hill through time. For example the bowl barrow is one of the most numerous forms of round barrow, a funerary monument dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age and constructed as an earthen or rubble mound covering a single or multiple burials. Occupying a prominent location it is a major historic element in the modern landscape and will provide important information the beliefs and social organisation of the early prehistoric community which built it. The settlement reflects the prehistoric settlement and agricultural land use of the hillside. All the features will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, functions, relative chronologies, longevity, interrelationships and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 December 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection, includes an enclosure, bowl barrow, linear earthwork, Iron Age settlement and part of an associated field system situated along the summit of a prominent and steeply sloping ridge overlooking the valley of the River Cerne. The southernmost is an enclosure known by many different names locally including ‘The Trendle’, ‘The Frying Pan’ and ‘The Maypole’ and is immediately above and to the east of the chalk hill figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant. The enclosure survives as a rectangular plan level platform cut into the slope and surrounded by a double bank and ditch with a rectangular mound centrally placed on the platform. The mound measures 15m long, 10m wide and 0.7m high, the platform measures 23m long by 19m wide and the surrounding banks are up to 1.8m high. The exact date and function of the enclosure is unclear, but interpretations have included a temple, burial mound or maypole site. To the north east is a bowl barrow which survives as a circular mound up to 10.2m in diameter and 1.1m high, surrounded by an entirely buried quarry ditch from which the construction material was derived. There is a rectangular hollow on the summit. Immediately to the north is a curving linear earthwork which survives as a bank and ditch. The bank survives differentially throughout its length measuring up to 5m wide and 1.2m high and has a modern gap close to the centre. It is accompanied by a 4m wide and up to 0.8m deep northern ditch. The date and function of this earthwork are unclear but it has been interpreted as a boundary connected with the Iron Age settlement. The settlement lies to the north east and survives as a large oval enclosure defined by a bank and outer ditch, with external hollows and banks representing house platforms, storage pits and a partial field system associated with the settlement. The enclosure bank measures up to 3.5m wide and 0.4m high and the ditch is up to 2.3m wide and 0.3m deep. It has two entrances one to the north east and the other in the south west. A series of circular depressions outside the enclosure are interpreted as house platforms or storage pits and further banks and lynchets of up to 0.3m high extend beyond and represent a partial prehistoric field system associated with the settlement.

Further archaeological remains in the vicinity are scheduled separately.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DO 151
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument Nos:-199018, 199007, 199010 and 198972


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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