Roman Sites in Dorset

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With such a wealth of astonishing places to discover, Dorset's Roman ruins remain a hugely popular draw. Among the top sites that people usually visit are Durnovaria, the Roman Town House of Dorchester and Jordan Hill Roman Temple. There are other great ancient ruins of Dorset to explore including Maumbury Rings, Bokerley Dyke and Bucknowle Farm, which is one of the best known Roman Sites in Dorset. We’ve put together an expert guide to Dorset's Roman ruins with our top places to visit below.

What are the best Roman Sites in Dorset?

1. Durnovaria

Durnovaria is the original Roman name for what is now the English town of Dorchester. Though Dorchester is best known for its Thomas Hardy connections, it remains an interesting town in its own right, having a number of museums dealing with such diverse topics as dinosaurs, Tutenkhamun and military history. The best Roman ruins in the town are the remains of a Roman townhouse dating from the 1st century CE located on Northernhay behind the Town Hall.

2. Roman Town House, Dorchester

The Roman Town House in Dorchester is a Roman ruin within Colliton Park, Dorchester, Dorset. The Town House is a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade I listed building. It is bounded on the north and west sides by North Walk and West Walk which are also scheduled monuments having the remains of the Roman ramparts of the town just below surface level. The Town House has two principal ranges of rooms. The South Range comprising rooms 1–7 survives in the plan form of flint and stone walls on the grass covered site. The West Range comprising rooms 8–18 was mosaic floored. This range was re-excavated and provided with a steel and glass cover building with a stone tiled roof all perched on the original foundations between 1996 and 1999.

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3. Jordan Hill Roman Temple

Jordan Hill Roman Temple is a Romano-Celtic temple and Roman ruin situated on Jordan Hill above Bowleaze Cove in the eastern suburbs of Weymouth in Dorset, England. Original amateur excavations on the site in 1843, by J. Medhurst, were followed by a series of excavations in the 20th century suggesting that the site was in operation between c. AD 69–79 to the late 4th century. In the 20th century the site became the property of the Ministry of Works and is currently in the guardianship of English Heritage.

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4. Maumbury Rings

Maumbury Rings is a Neolithic henge in the south of Dorchester town in Dorset, England (grid reference SY690899). It is a large circular earthwork, 85 metres in diameter, with a single bank and an entrance to the north east. It was modified during the Roman period when it was adapted for use as an amphitheatre, and the site was remodelled again during the English Civil War when it was used as an artillery fort guarding the southern approach to Dorchester. The monument is now a public open space, and used for open-air concerts, festivals and re-enactments.

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5. Bokerley Dyke

Bokerley Dyke is a Romano-British defensive dyke 3.25 miles long in north east Dorset, England, near the villages of Woodyates and Pentridge. Bokerley Dyke may have originated in the Bronze Age or Early Iron Age and formed a political and cultural boundary. It was cut through by a Roman Road (Ackling Dyke running between Old Sarum and Badbury Rings) in the 1st century. In the 4th century it was remodelled and brought back into use, and excavations show that the Roman road was blocked. A coin of Valens dates this activity to shortly after 364 AD. It may have been built in 367-8 AD when Roman sources report that Britain was attacked by Picts, Scots and Saxons in a supposed Great Conspiracy. The Roman road was later reopened, but the dyke may have continued in use after the cessation of the Roman rule and still forms part of a boundary between the counties of Dorset and Hampshire.

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6. Bucknowle Farm

Bucknowle Farm is the site of a Romano-British settlement and a Roman villa, located one kilometre southeast of Church Knowle and one kilometre southwest of Corfe Castle village in Dorset, England. It is about seven kilometres south of Wareham and approximately nine kilometres west of Swanage in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck. A number of Romano-British sites have been discovered and studied on the Isle of Purbeck. The Romano-British villa complex found at Bucknowle Farm is the first substantial villa to be found south of the Purbeck Hills. It was excavated between 1976 and 1991. here is a camping site within the grounds of Bucknowle Farm.

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7. Waddon Hill

Waddon Hill is a hill and the site of an old Roman fort near Beaminster, in the English county of Dorset. The name Waddon is from the Old English meaning wheat hill. The Wessex Ridgeway passes to the north of the hill summit and Roman fort. The B3162 road passes close to the western end of the hill. Lewesdon Hill is about 0.6 miles (1 km) to the west. There is no public right of way on the summit of Waddon Hill.

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We’re constantly expanding this list of ancient Roman ruins of Dorset and if you do notice any omissions then please feel free to contact us with further information and our editorial team will look to expand this collection further.