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Dorchester

Trip Planner Europe  /  UK  /  England  /  Dorset  /  Dorchester
(3.5/5 based on 4,600+ reviews for top 30 attractions)
Things to do: museums, nightlife, parks
Dorchester is the county town of Dorset, England. It is is situated between the towns of Poole and Bridport on the A35 trunk route. A historic market town, Dorchester lies on the banks of the River Frome, in the Frome Valley, just south of the Dorset Downs and north of the South Dorset Ridgeway, that separates the area from Weymouth, 8mi south.Dorchester was the home and inspiration of the author Thomas Hardy, whose novel The Mayor of Casterbridge was based on the town.In the 2011 census the population of Dorchester was 19,060.HistoryPrehistory and Romano-BritishDorchester's roots stem back to prehistoric times. The earliest settlements were about 2mi southwest of the modern town centre in the vicinity of Maiden Castle, a large Iron Age hill fort that was one of the most powerful settlements in pre-Roman Britain. Different tribes lived there from 4000 BC. The Durotriges were likely to have been there when the Romans arrived in Britain in 43 AD.The Romans defeated the local tribes by 70 AD and established a garrison nearby, which was subsequently converted to a town which the Romans named Durnovaria, a Brythonic name incorporating durn, "fist", loosely interpreted as 'place with fist-sized pebbles'. It appears to have taken part of its name from the local Durotriges tribe who inhabited the area. Durnovaria was first recorded in the 4th century Antonine Itinerary and became a market centre for the surrounding countryside, an important road junction and staging post, and subsequently one of the twin capitals of the Celtic Durotriges tribe.
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