Dating the Cerne Abbas Giant | Martin Papworth

20 July 2023, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

In March 2020, in the final week before Covid lockdown, the National Trust excavated four small trenches across the feet and elbows of the Cerne Abbas Giant. This was to seek a date for this enigmatic figure using optically stimulated luminescence. The results were unexpected. It had been hoped to announce the results during a centenary celebration of the gift of the Giant by the Pitt Rivers family to the National Trust but the pandemic delayed the research. The analysis of the snail shells and soils told the story of his origins and we now have dates for a new narrative. This talk will demonstrate that this fresh information has raised many new questions.


Martin Papworth


Martin Papworth is an archaeologist for the National Trust where he has worked for 37 years. He provides archaeological advice for National Trust properties in Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, most of Wiltshire and the Killerton and Knightshayes estates in Devon. Sites range from the World War II landscape of Studland Heath, the relict designed gardens surrounding places like Lacock, Dyrham, Montacute and Stourhead as well as over 30 hillforts (like Badbury and Hambledon ) and Palaeolithic cave deposits in the Mendips.

  • Opening hours:

    Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
    Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
    Bank Holidays: 10.00am - 4.00pm

  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

    View Map