A Step Back in Time: History of Dorset - The Priory Hotel Wareham

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A Step Back in Time: History of Dorset

11 December 2022


Many of our guests visit us with the intention to spend some time exploring the history of the local area so when Holly Dodd, author of ContentnCoffee asked us if we would share her article on the History of Dorset, we jumped at her offer. We hope you enjoy it….

A Step Back in Time: History of Dorset

Are many places in the world more beautiful than the southerly English county of Dorset? Boasting miles of stunning coastline, Dorset’s heritage is rich and long. Prehistoric landscapes dating back to the dinosaurs and carefully preserved nods to man’s achievements, the time has been holding its breath in Dorset.

Dorset is accessible from many of the UK’s main transport hubs. This rural county is full of things to do and see, all whilst surrounded by its unique, unassuming history.

Ramble Your Way Through Prehistoric Times

Dorset is most famed for its Jurassic coastline which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. Impressively, the natural history of the whole planet is on display for all to see along the 95-mile stretch of coastline, which spans Dorset and Devon. This is the only place in the world where you can see rocks and fossils from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods – that’s 185 million years of the Earth’s history.


Grab your hiking boots and enjoy a ramble along the many coastal paths of Dorset. Breath-taking views all along the Jurassic Coast await you. Perhaps the most iconic is the majestic Durdle Door. This natural arch of hard limestone rises out of the sea, resembling a sea monster taking a drink beneath the sea’s rippling surface.

Be Amazed at Our Ancient Ancestors

The rolling countryside of Dorset is steeped in masterful creations built by our ancient ancestors, which have stood the test of time. Ancient Bronze & Iron Age hill forts are preserved in the English landscape all over Dorset, giving you a glimpse of a way of life from 5,000 years ago.


Visiting the many Dorset hill forts allows us to appreciate the manpower, dedication, and skill involved in building these ancient monuments. Many of the hill forts, like Eggardon Hill, Covey’s Castle, and Lewesdon Hill are built on high ground, rewarding us with stunning views.

Explore Dorset’s Castles

Dorset’s castles range from medieval ruins to carefully preserved examples of 17th Century architecture. Exploring these sites is a small window in time to the different people that have lived out their stories in beautiful Dorset.

Corfe Castle, snuggled in between Wareham and Swanage was built in 1086 AD, it’s been home to Saxons, Normans, and royalty throughout the ages. A testament to the way nature and man have come together harmoniously, Corfe Castle overlooks Swanage Railway where you can see steam engines of bygone eras chugging along. A short drive away, you’ll enjoy peaceful walks in preserved, ancient woodlands, such as Higher Hyde Heath.

Many of the castles in the area make for interesting family days out. Lulworth Castle was originally built as a hunting lodge for the wealthy and imitated the style of a medieval castle, so it’s a textbook example of a classic castle. It’s little wonder that it’s one of the most beautiful castles in Dorset.

Discover Dorset’s Lost Village

A short distance from Lulworth, you’ll find the village of Tyneham. A quintessentially English village with a major difference. It has a population of zero.

For Tyneham Village, time really did stand still in 1943 when the village’s population was evacuated to make way for military training during World War II. Many residents had lived in the village for generations, and they did not leave without a heartfelt plea to the military to treat their home with care.

Sadly, the villagers never returned to Tyneham. Now it stands still in an age before World War II hit.

Nods to Modern History

Today, picturesque Dorset has been immortalised in film and literary history. Dorset-born Thomas Hardy drew inspiration from his beloved Dorset to form his semi-fictional town of “Wessex”. Other world-famous authors, including Enid Blyton and Jane Austen, fell in love with Dorset after a single visit, incorporating it into their own works.

Dorset’s landscape has been captured in countless movies. Lyme Regis is a regular film location and has been featured in movies such as “Persuasion” in 2007, “Ammonite” in 2020, and most recently, filming wrapped in 2021 for the upcoming “Wonka” movie. Childhood favourites like “Bed knobs and Broomsticks” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is set in the vast castles and adorable Dorset villages, giving the films an authentic feel.

A Moment in Time

Head to the stunning English county of Dorset to explore the wondrous creativity of Mother Nature and man. From the ancient Jurassic Coast to the amazing resilience of Dorset’s residents through various wars, you’ll find a rich and varied history to enjoy.


Author: Holly Dodd ContentnCoffee