Cerne Giant Hill

Grassy hillside with lots of wild flowers in bloom
Cerne Giant Downland. Photo: Malcolm Wemyss

Guide to this top Dorset butterfly site, including: location, description, species of interest and photo gallery.

Orange butterfly with brown markings.

Duke of Burgundy. Photo: Mark Wright

A lovely shot of a Duke by Mark, taken at Cerne Giant Hill, which has the only publicly accessible colony of this butterfly in Dorset. Butterfly Conservation Dorset Branch regularly undertakes conservation work on the site to ensure its survival.

Dark brown butterfy with extensive orange marking plus paler underwing marks

Duke of Burgundy. Photo: John Woodruff

Spotted by John on Giant Hill, Cerne Abbas on 16/05/2019. He reports that all the Dukes out were to be see at the base of the hill, in the undergrowth. Catching this specimen among the grass really gives you an idea of how small this butterfly is.

Side view of a small brown and white butterfly on a cowslip

Duke of Burgundy. Photo: Richard Belding

Richard has sent us this lovely reminder of last spring, to cheer up these gloomy days. It was taken on Cerne Giant Hill in 2017.

We hope to be seeing His Grace on the wing again in late May – all of the Dukes are chrysalises at the moment.

Sideways view of a Green Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak. Photo: Colin Burningham

Malcolm Wemyss, who sent us Colin’s photo, commented on how fresh and intricately marked a specimen this was. He also says they did an all-afternoon search, and found more numbers and a greater distribution of colonies of Green Hairstreak than he can recall in 25 years of recording on the hill. This butterfly does seem to be doing well in Dorset – see the statistics on our distribution atlas page.