Snail Shells Date England’s Cerne Abbas Giant to Medieval, Not Prehistoric, Era
by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
The earliest recorded mention of the Cerne Abbas Giant, a 180-foot-tall chalk drawing of a nude man wielding a club, dates to 1694. But archaeologists and locals alike have long speculated that the towering figure in Dorset, England, is much older—perhaps even a relic of the prehistoric period.
Now, reports BBC News, an analysis of snail shells found at the site suggests the artwork actually dates to the medieval era.
Mollusk shells may seem like an odd way of homing in on a giant’s age, but as Tom Fish writes for Express, the particular species of snail found in soil samples coinciding with the chalk outline’s creation only arrived in England during the 13th and 14th centuries.
Environmental archaeologist Mike Allen tells BBC News that the tiny snails were introduced to England “accidentally, probably in straw and hay used as packing for goods from the continent.”
Allen adds, “Sadly, this shows the giant is unlikely to be prehistoric or Roman, and more likely dates to medieval times or later.”