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Cerne Abbas - historic towns survey

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 its historic buildings. The nucleated medieval town plan survives almost 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 an important 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. Numerous medieval and post-medieval buildings form 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 emphasise links 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) and the full report (February 2011) is below. We would welcome your comments. Please send any feedback to the Senior Archaeologist (Promotion and Liaison).

Part 1 and 2 Introduction and overview (pdf, 436kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 3 and 4 Context and sources (pdf, 492kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.1 and 5.2 Historical development - Saxon and medieval (pdf, 393kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.3 to 5.5 Historical development - Post-medieval to modern (pdf, 764kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Character appraisal (pdf, 237kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 1 The Abbey (pdf, 548kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 2 The town (pdf, 642kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 3 Acreman Street (pdf, 630kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 7 Research and appendices (pdf, 174kb) (opens in a new window)

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