THE RUDE MAN of CERNE
An Alternative Theory
On the hillside overlooking Cerne Abbas in Dorset is carved in chalk a gigantic rampant male figure known as the Cerne Giant, or the Rude Man of Cerne. He dates back to Roman, possibly pre-Roman, Britain.
There are many different explanations as to who he is and who carved him.
I have an alternative theory.
Have you ever thought what a miserable lot the inhabitants of Ancient Britain were according to the archaeologists? No sense of humour, spending all their time erecting stone circles, carving figures on hillsides, making pots, painting walls, etc. with scarcely an intelligent thought in their thick Neanderthal skulls or simple peasant brains.
What about having fun? Were they so different from us? And, horror of horrors, could some of the revered cave paintings be nothing more than ancient teenage graffiti? Were those hillside carvings the childish result of mothers’ commands “For heaven’s sake go out and play”?
Hill carvings are intriguing. Were they labour-saving ploys? Experiences erecting stone circles and monoliths for worshiping purposes proved that it involved really hard and backbreaking work, especially as it meant lugging massive hunks of stone over long distances. It was much quicker to carve a nice big symbol up on a convenient hill. Even so, the work was quite tiring, and men were probably the same then as they are now. Picture the scene.
Ancient Brit staggers into the family home and throws his little stone axe and his club into the corner.
“Had a hard day, dear” Mrs Ancient Brit enquires, watchinghim tearing with strong healthy teeth at hind leg of the wild boar she’s just roasted over an open fire. “Fancy a cuddle?” she suggests coyly snuggling up to him.
“Gerroff,” he grumbles, lying down and turning his back on her. (Whoever started the rumour that men are the ones who are always ready for a bit of fun and frolic?)
Now in our day we might go off in a bit of a huff, but Mrs AB had it sussed.
“All right dear,” she murmurs sweetly. “You have a nice rest. I’ll just go up to see how you’re getting on with the symbol your carving.”
As soon as the snores from the bed become audible she dashes off to join the other women up the hill who are having fun with some troubadours who happened to be passing through.
“That must have been a fertility symbol you carved, dear,” she tells Mr AB a few months later, patting her bulging belly contentedly.
“Er, yes,” agrees Mr. AB proudly but slightly puzzled because he can’t quite remember —.
Incidentally, have you ever wondered just how these hill figures got carved?
Take the Cerne Giant for instance. As fertility symbols go, he’s quite the most rampant.
From a distance he looks great. You can see exactly what he is. But close up it’s just a random collection of white lines. There’s no way you could know how the carving was going. Was there someone supervising everything from a nearby hill and yelling instructions?
“Up a bit, Leofric - now down a bit, a bit more - left - left again - that’s it. Now straight up.”
Or perhaps he whistled like shepherds do with their dogs. Or used semaphore.
The other theory is more straightforward and not previously mooted. It was the women who carved Giant.
Imagine that all the Cerne males went off hunting and a herd of mad wild boar trampled them to death. The women, becoming very frustrated, decided to advertise by carving out a massive pin-up of their ideal man in the hope that someone like him might respond to the advert, come along in real life and sweep them off their feet.
What followed is veiled in mystery, which is why archaeologists are left putting forward theories and probably getting it all wrong.
© Copyright Percydale Press 2006