Dorchester is a Roman jewel in the heart of Dorset. This accessible county town boasts a rich heritage and is scattered with visible remnants of its ancient origins, from an impressive Roman villa to a Neolithic henge.
Dorchester’s pretty shopping streets still follow the original Roman layout and run right up to the front door of the County Museum. Inside are stored some of Dorset’s most significant natural and archaeological treasures, including Bronze Age gold artefacts and the mighty two-meter-long skull of a Jurassic Pliosaur.
Flanked by beautiful water meadows and riverside walks to the north, and Maiden Castle, one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in Europe, to the south, Dorchester is the perfect starting point for exploring the landscape of Dorset. From this central location the Jurassic Coast is within easy reach, with places like Lulworth and Charmouth just a 30 – 45 minute drive away, and good bus and train links to Weymouth, Bridport and beyond.
How to Get There
Dorchester is easily reached by train, featuring a pair of station that link directly to London Waterloo and Bristol. It is also a hub for several bus routes that operate throughout the county, including the Jurassic Coaster bus service. Dorchester can also be accessed by the A35 road which runs through much of west Dorset, offering great access to some of the Jurassic Coast’s top spots.
Where to Stay
Things to Do
Dorset County Museum
Dorset County Museum is located in the heart of Dorchester, and contains mysteries from over 200 million years of Dorset’s past. The Jurassic Coast Gallery has fossils from across the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, including the ‘World’s Biggest Bite’, the incredible jaw and skull of a pliosaur. The specimen on display here is one of the largest and best preserved found anywhere in the world. In addition there are replica flying reptiles, interactive displays, dress-ups and a plethora of fossils from the museum’s large collection.
The museum also has other galleries housing a wide variety of fascinating treasures and exhibitions. There are activities for children and all the family will find something of interest from the ancient peoples of Dorset to famous Dorset writers such as Thomas Hardy.
Dorchester makes an ideal launchpad for a day’s walking on the Jurassic Coast. Walking highlights including Portland, Durdle Door, and Lyme Regis are all accessible within an hour or so’s drive or bus journey. An OS Map from our online shop is an essential companion for exploring the many faces of the World Heritage Site. Visit our Jurassic Coast Highlights page for more inspiration!