The History of Dorset

Dorset is a town with a rich and varied history, dating back to Roman times. The Romans created a town in the area called Durnovaria, building roads and connecting it to other towns and villages such as Bath and Winchester. Some of the original town’s walls can still be seen today in the county town of Dorchester.

Following the decline of the Roman Empire, Dorset was controlled by the Saxons, who began farming the area in a manner that still persists to the present day in many ways. Evidence of the Saxon presence can also be found in churches such as St. Martin’s Church at Wareham. Some of the Saxon kings who played a large role in the development of Dorset include Edweard and the last Saxon king, Harald.

In the medieval era, Dorset became a thriving market town. During this time many castles were built, such as Corfe Castle, Shaftesbury and Wareham. Many of these castles can still be explored by present day visitors to Dorset.

Corfe Castle

Dorset, Corfe Castle in the 1890′s (source: oldukphotos.com)

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Dorset went through some difficult economic times. This resulted in the food riots of the late 1700s and early 1800s. One of the area’s best known writers, Thomas Hardy, was inspired to write novels such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles due to the hardship experienced by laborers in this region.

In modern times, tourism has played an ever more significant role in Dorset’s economy. As agriculture has steadily declined over the last century, the region largely depends on tourism for its economic well being. Many visitors are drawn to the Jurassic Coast and quaint atmosphere of the town.