Dorset is a rural county in south west England. The first known settlement of Dorset was by Mesolithic hunters, who returned to Britain at a time when it was still attached to Europe by a land-bridge, around 12,500 BC. The population was very small, maybe only a few thousand across the whole of Britain, and concentrated along the coast: in Dorset, such places as the Isle of Purbeck, Weymouth, Chesil Beach and Hengistbury Head, and along the Stour valley. These populations used stone tools and fire to clear some of the native oak forest for herding prey. Genetic experiments carried out on a Mesolithic skeleton from Cheddar Gorge (in the neighbouring county of Somerset) have shown that a significant part of the contemporary population of Dorset is descended from these original inhabitants of the British Isles.
Dorset's high chalk hills have provided a location for defensive settlements for millennia, with a large number of late Bronze Age but mostly Iron Age hill forts, such as Maiden Castle, Hod Hill, Badbury Rings and Hambledon Hill.
Dorset has many notable Roman artefacts, particularly around the Roman town Dorchester, where Maiden Castle was taken early in the Roman occupation. In the grounds of the County Council offices is a Roman house with well preserved mosaic floors and an aqueduct fed by waters of a tributary of the Frome empounded behind an earthen dam, with a covered timber-lined channel of some nine km; the dam gave way and the aqueduct was abandoned unexpectedly early, in the mid-2nd century. Roman roads radiated from Dorchester, following the tops of the chalk ridges north west to Ilchester near Yeovil, and east to Badbury Rings where it forked to Winchester, Bath and a particularly well-preserved route running north east to Old Sarum near Salisbury, as well as tracks to the many small Roman villages around the county. In the Roman era settlements moved from the hill tops to the valleys, with Roman finds, such as the famous Hinton St Mary mosaic, being found in the vales. In the Isle of Purbeck a long-settled Iron Age site at Worth Matravers was reorganised late in the Roman period to grow grain for the legion, with a grain-parching granary floor heated with a hypocaust. By the 4th century the hilltops had been abandoned.
For more history on Dorset please click here - http://www.dorsethistory.co.uk/