The Dorset Historic Towns Project report on Cerne Abbas.
The character of Cerne Abbas is derived from its well-defined historic town layout and the number and quality of historic buildings. The nucleated medieval town plan survives virtually intact and exerts a strong influence on the character of the town in terms of street and plot layout. The relationship of the town to the surviving remains of the Abbey is a major contributing factor to its distinctiveness and reflects the importance of the ecclesiastical aspect in the history and development of the town.
Perhaps the greatest contributor to the character and local distinctiveness of Cerne Abbas are the historic buildings. There are numerous medieval and post-medieval buildings forming unbroken groups in the streetscape with little disruption from modern development. The consistent use of local building materials and vernacular building details provides strong local character and emphasises the linkage with the surrounding landscape.
The fine landscape setting in the river valley framed by dramatic steep swooping chalk valley slopes adds a major positive visual component to the town and for the chalk hill figure of the Cerne Giant, which is arguably the most famous element of Cerne Abbas today.
Here is a summary (pdf, 185kb) (opens in a new window) . The full report (February 2011) is below. We would welcome your comments. Please send any feedback to the Senior Archaeologist (Promotion and Liaison).