Dorset’s county town lies on the River Frome
and was known as Durnovaria in Roman times. It
has a fascinatingly murky past. It was already
a royal borough when a castle was built here
in the 12th Century, followed by an
The infamous Judge Jeffrey's held some of his Bloody Assizes in the Antelope Hotel in the 17th Century while the unfortunate Tolpuddle Marchers were sent to Australia from the town’s Old Crown Court.
The 19th Century author
Thomas Hardy lived nearby for many years and
called the town ‘Casterbridge’ in his
masterwork ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge' (1886).
The ancient earthwork of Maiden Castle lies close by. South of the town is the Maumbury Ring, a Stone Age site transformed by the Romans into an amphitheatre.
Much later it became the site of public executions. In the town is an excavated Roman house while the local museum has a number of Roman finds on display.