Dorchester

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The ancient town of Dorchester is located in the beautiful county of Dorset. It is a town which has a rich Roman heritage. There is much here still to be discovered in archaeological terms and even now when construction begins on a new building there are more often than not new artefacts uncovered which link back to Roman times. There is plenty to see and do here no matter what time of the year you come to visit, and all members of the family should find something that appeals whether it is an interest in all things historical or simply have a love of everyone’s favourite childhood companion, the teddy bear. The town also has a couple of famous residents that it is very proud of in the form of Thomas Hardy the famous poet and novelist and Parson Barnes who was also a poet but who also kept a school in the town. Both have statues erected in their memory and have a couple of attractions related to them around the town.

Photo by Elliott Brown
Photo by Elliott Brown

Places to Visit

Just to the south of the Dorchester is Maiden Castle, an ancient hill fort which was inhabited around four thousand years ago. The fort was captured by the invading Romans and became the base from which their own town of Durnovaria was built around, an area which is now part of modern Dorchester. Dorchester is home to one of the most impressive sets of roman architectural remains in the country, namely the Maumbury Rings.

The rings were once a part of a vast Roman amphitheatre which it is believed could hold an audience of up to ten thousand who would come to watch gladiatorial battles played out in the arena. Dorchester is also the home of the Dorset County Museum which houses the Thomas Hardy Collection. You will also find a large selection of fossils that were found on Dorset’s Jurassic coast. The collection includes a huge ichthyosaur which is bound to be a hit with the kids.

Things to See and Do

Pay a visit to the Roman Villa which is located to the rear of the town hall, many of the original mosaic floors can still be seen today. Or head out to the Maumbury Rings. Famous for being a vast Roman amphitheatre, it was a Neolithic henge long before the Romans appeared and created their arena. There are still performances staged on the site today, details of which should be available locally. The birthplace of Thomas Hardy is a popular attraction and is located in Bockhampton, just a few miles to the north of Dorchester.

The whole family will fall in love with the Teddy Bear Museum from the smallest of bears to the rather disconcerting adult sized bears that find their home here. Amongst the collection are famous bears and historical bears that gained recognition across the centuries. A visit to the Terracotta Warriors Museum will transport you back to 8th Century China and envelop you in a world of arms and armour as well as reconstructions of the world famous terracotta figures.

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