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Dorchester the county town

Renowned for its ancient history, the market town of Dorchester is also the county town of Dorset. On your visit to Dorchester, whether it’s for a short break or day visit, you’ll be able to explore all its Roman history, and also there’s so much see and do with many visitor attractions historic places to visit in the town and the surrounding area.

thomas hardy cottage

The birthplace cottage of novelist Thomas Hardy

⇒ Dorchester at a glance

  • An ancient historical and Roman market town
  • Popular weekly Dorchester market
  • Thomas Hardy country and monument
  • The Tolpuddle Martyrs and Museum
  • Various museums, gardens and buildings
  • Dorset County Museum, Keep Military Museum
  • Tutankamun Exhibition, Mummies Exihibition
  • Terracotta Warriors Museum
  • Dinosaur Museum, Teddy Bear Museum
  • Events, exhibitions and festivals held throughout the year
  • Many Roman remains and artefacts
  • Iron Age hillfort of Maiden Castle
  • Neolithic Maumbury Rings
  • Nearby: Sculptures by the Lakes, Kingston Maurward Gardens & Animal Park
the tolpuddle martyrs

Statues of the Tolpoddle martyrs in Dorchester

Dorchester – a town of surprises

Roman Britain… and Roman Dorchester, another charming and ancient Dorset market town, is an important historical town and also the capital of the county. It’s also well known for being a Roman town, is steeped in history and goes back centuries long before the Romans arrived.

roman-town-houseAn ancient town… Dorchester goes back to prehistoric times long before the Romans arrived, but is well known for when it was occupied by the Romans. Later in history it was the site of the ‘Bloody Assizes’, of Judge Jeffreys fame of the Monmouth Rebellion, and later in the 1830s for the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

roman town house mosaic

The mosaic floor of the Roman town house in Dorchester

The modern town of Dorchester, is a mixture of ancient, old and the new, with its walks, museums, gardens and also the heart of Thomas Hardy country. The new part of Dorchester being the new village development of Poundbury on the western edge of the town built of Duchy of Cornwall land.

keep museum

So much to see and do

So much to visit… the ancient market town of Dorchester and the surrounding area has literally loads of museums, exhibitions and attractions to visit and enjoy. In fact, there’s literally something for everyone!

dorch museum

Just look… explore the town and discover the excellent Dorset County Museum, or the Keep Military Museum. Have some fun in the Dinosaur Museum, discover more about Egypt in the Tutankamun Exhibition.

tut exhibBe amazed at a replicated selection of Chinese warriors in the Terracotta Warriors Museum, or learn about Egyptian balming at the Mummies Exhibition, or the delightful family Teddy Bear Museum.

sculptures by the lakes

Sculptures by the Lakes attraction near Dorchester

Amongst other popular visitor attractions close by and in the surrounding area is the very popular Kingston Maurward Gardens & Animal Park.

maumbury ringsLove markets?… then don’t forget Wednesdays are market days, so go and explore what’s on offer at the popular Dorchester market. Around the area there are many farmers’ markets to be found.

or love ancient sites?… Ancient sites in the area include the Neolithic era and circular Maumbury Rings. Being a large henge at 85m in diameter its had a varied use during its long history and was also used as an amphitheatre during the Roman occupation. Even during recent history it has seen many uses.

Maiden Castle, Dorchester

The area is great too

Maiden Castle, just on the edge of the town and is just a very short drive away, and is the largest and probably the best iron age hill fort around. With its ramparts its a great way to spend the morning or an afternoon or even longer exploring the hill fort in our great Dorset air.

hardy statue 0722So there it is – Dorchester and the surrounding area is steeped in history and ancient sites. It’s a truly an outstanding area!

And the new… On the edge of Dorchester is the new development village of Poundbury, designed by Prince Charles on Duchy land. It’s a village built with different ideas than the conventional, traditional ones.

the hardy monument

Enjoy a walk up to the Hardy monument

Want to stay?… Of course there’s various types of accommodation available to choose from in Dorchester and the surrounding area, whether it’s for short visits or longer holidays. The town has the usual high street shops to explore, and of course, when it comes to eating there are some great cafes, restaurants, bars or takeaways to choose from.

Discover Dorchester and explore its ancient and Roman history!

hardy cottage 2

⇒ Info Point

Your holiday Information Point (with links) to find out more on what to see and do in West Bay and the surrounding area.

  • Dorchester Tourist Information Centre   
    Dorchester Library & Learning Centre, South Walks House, Charles Street, Dorchester DT1 1EE
    Telephone 01305 267992
  • South West Coast Path  –
    Walks overing 630 miles of superb coastline
Come and visit Dorchester and you’ll just love exploring this ancient Roman town!