The historic and protected Cerne Abbas Giant was defaced to promote the release of a new movie.

It has angered the National Trust, who protect the site and did not give anybody permission to alter the ancient chalk figure.

Standing at 180ft tall the Cerne Giant is Britain’s largest chalk hill figure and perhaps the best known.

However, on Thursday morning residents in the village noticed something strange going on at the Giant. A huge face mask was placed over the genitals and a slogan 'WEAR MASK. SAVE LIVE.' was placed either side.

It appears to have been part of a series of PR stunts by people promoting the new Borat movie, which is due to be released on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service today.

Images of Borat wearing a 'mankini' in the style of a medical face mask have been projected on numerous landmarks across the UK to promote the film's release, including Edinburgh Castle, the Tower of London, the Angel of the North and Arthur's Seat.

A huge inflatable Borat was floated down the Thames and people dressed as the character have been spotted in the streets of London.

However, the National Trust has hit out at the ill-placed PR stunt, saying it threatened the fragile state of the Cerne Giant.

The Giant was given to the National Trust nearly 100 years ago, in 1920. Part of conserving the Giant means leaving it alone as much as possible – the chalk is replaced every decade or so, a process that takes days of work by National Trust rangers and volunteers. The more the ground is disturbed, the quicker the Giant erodes away.

A National Trust spokesperson said: "We do not encourage the defacing of the Cerne Abbas Giant as any such action may damage this fragile site; whether by someone physically attaching something to him or giving the impression of having done so, as this may encourage others.

"The giant is protected as both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its important chalk grassland which supports wild flowers, butterflies and other wildlife.”

It's not the first time the Giant has been altered in some way. In April this year, village residents awoke to see their chalk guardian wearing a face mask. 

In March last year he was given a flower to promote International Women's day.

Amazon has been approached by the Echo for comment.