Tourist Information in Dorset
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Dorchester Town Information

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Dorchester Town Pump and Corn Exchange - Photo © Nigel Freeman
Dorchester Town Pump and Corn Exchange
Photo: Nigel Freeman CCL

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 important priory.

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.

Dorset County Museum - Photo © Nigel Freeman
Dorset County Museum - Photo: Nigel Freeman CCL