An ancient chalk carving thought to be an Iron Age symbol of fertility will be repainted by the Scouts.

The Long Man of Wilmington was painted green during the Second World War so German bombers could not use it as a landmark.

Now 40 Scouts will freshen up the 235-foot man-shaped image cut into the South Downs.

Action man and chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “Volunteering is at the heart of Scouting and this is a great way for Scouts to get out and do something for their community.”

The origin of England’s tallest chalk hill figure – one of the largest in the world – has puzzled historians and archaeologists for generations.

It was once thought the man, who holds two ‘staves’ and appears in proportion from below, was an Anglo Saxon warrior or Roman folly.

But more recent research suggests it dates back to the mid-16th century.

The carving underwent a controversial makeover in 2007 when 100 women gave the Long Man a temporary female form, using their bodies to add pigtails, breasts and hips as part Trinny and Susannah’s ITV fashion show Undress the Nation.

Angry druids and pagans protested over the “disrespectful” TV stunt and the Sussex Archaeological Society apologised for allowing the filming to take place.

The restoration job is a flagship project for Scout Community Week which includes more than 3,000 projects and more than 160,000 Scouts across the county.

Margaret Paren, chairman of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The Long Man of Wilmington is an iconic figure in the South Downs National Park and we’re very grateful to our local Scouts for giving up their time to give him a facelift.”

Tristan Bareham, chief executive officer of Sussex Past, said: “We’re delighted to see local Scouts getting involved in our project with the South Downs National Park to maintain and preserve the Long Man.”

B&Q will donate the paint and the Scouts will get to work on Saturday, June 1.