For many, DORCHESTER, county town of Dorset, is essentially Thomas Hardy’s town; he was born at Higher Bockhampton, three miles east, his heart is buried in Stinsford, a couple of miles northeast (the rest of him is in Westminster Abbey), and he spent much of his life in Dorchester itself, where his statue now stands on High West Street. The town appears in his novels as Casterbridge, and the local countryside is evocatively depicted, notably the wild heathland of the east (Egdon Heath) and the eerie yew forest of Cranborne Chase.

The real Dorchester – liveliest on Wednesday, market day has a pleasant central core of mostly seventeenth-century and Georgian buildings, though the town’s origins go back to the Romans, who founded “Durnovaria” in about 70 AD. The Roman walls were replaced in the eighteenth century by tree-lined avenues called “Walks”, but some traces of the Roman period have survived. On the southeast edge of town, Maumbury Rings is where the Romans held vast gladiatorial combats in an amphitheatre adapted from a Stone Age site.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

England features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Podcast: the extraordinary life of Aboriginal storyteller Francis Firebrace

Podcast: the extraordinary life of Aboriginal storyteller Francis Firebrace

Cowboy, pirate, Aboriginal storyteller, artist, cultural educator, filmmaker, soft-porn photographer. Francis Firebrace, now 81, has certainly led an extraordin…

14 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson volume_up Podcast
Podcast: adventures with the Natural Navigator

Podcast: adventures with the Natural Navigator

In a world where we rely so heavily on GPS to get from A to B, it's easy to tune out from the natural navigational clues that surround us. In this episode of…

07 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson volume_up Podcast
The best pub walks in Britain

The best pub walks in Britain

From its dramatic coastline to its upland mountains, from its stirring moorland to its bucolic inland shires, Britain’s wildly diverse landscapes make for som…

29 Sep 2017 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook