A new theory on the origins of the Cerne Giant has knocked centuries off his age.

The giant, whose outline is marked in chalk on a hillside in the village of Cerne Abbas, has long been considered the work of Celtic or Roman settlers.

But new research by historian, Rob Wilson-North, suggests that the giant may have been created in the 17th century in a gesture of defiance to Roundhead leader Oliver Cromwell.

Mr Wilson-North wrote to Current Archaeology magazine with his discovery of earthworks in a nearby garden. The earthworks indicate two circular water features with a large canal running straight up between them.

“The similarity on plan of these garden features with the giant’s best-known attributes is quite extraordinary,” he wrote.

The garden is attached to a manor house occupied between 1662 and 1666 by Royalist MP Denzil Holles, who held the Lord Protector in contempt.