Heritage Locations

Heritage is all around us and touches our everyday lives. Wherever you are in the Dorset AONB, it is likely that you will be able to see something from the past - a hill fort, an interesting old building, a stone circle, or even a very large white giant!

Take a closer look and even small and seemingly insignificant features - a hump in a field, an old dry stone wall - can give you clues to how people lived and what they did here long ago.

In fact, the landscape we see today has been shaped by human activity over thousands of years. A lot of things that appear 'natural' are really the result of people's interactions with the land. This even includes some of our most important wildlife habitats. Heathland, for example, was created by prehistoric farmers.

But heritage isn't just about what we can see in the landscape. There's a rich cultural heritage of local customs and traditions that you can hear, touch and taste! A cultural heritage that not only tells us stories from the past but shapes the lives of people living here today.

In this section, you'll find some examples of our rich local heritage, where to go to see it and links to find out more.

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  • Cerne Giant

    Large human figure cut into the chalk hill above the village of Cerne Abbas.

  • Corfe Castle

    One of Britain's most majestic ruins. Extensive castle remains in a strategic position in the Purbeck Hills.

  • Eggardon Hillfort

    Eggardon Hillfort credit_Heather-Snow Iron Age hillfort at the western end of the chalk ridge, overlooking the Marshwood Vale. The hollows in the interior are probably the remains of Iron Age grain storage pits. ...

  • Forde Abbey

    Former Cistercian Abbey founded 800 years ago, now a family run estate. Magnificent building and gardens.

  • Hambledon Hill

    View-from-Hambledon-Hill_credit G&S Snelgrove Spectacular Iron Age hillfort overlooking the Blackmore Vale. The locations of Iron Age huts can be seen in the interior, and there is an earlier Neolithic long barrow inside the fort too. ...

  • Hardy Monument and Black Down

    Hardys-monument-view_Simons Monument erected 1844 in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag-Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. ...

  • Hod Hill

    Iron Age hillfort containing smaller Roman fort in one corner, built at the time of the Roman conquest. ...

  • Kingston Russell Stones

    Remains of a Bronze Age stone circle, built about 4,000 years ago.

  • Lulworth Castle

    Early 17th Century hunting lodge set in parkland.

  • Maiden Castle

    The most massive Iron Age hillfort in Europe with high and complex ramparts.

  • Nine stones

    Prehistoric stone circle, constructed about 4,000 years ago. The circle is made up of nine stones of varying sizes and is now surrounded by trees.

  • Osmington White Horse

    Chalk hill figure of horse and rider created in 1808. The rider represents King George III, a regular visitor to Weymouth.

  • Pilsdon Pen

    View from Pilsdon pen credit Nathalie-Roberts Iron Age Hillfort with amazing views over the Marshwood Vale to the south and the Axe Valley to the north. On a clear day, look out for the Quantock Hills and Dartmoor too!

  • Poor Lot Barrows

    Part of an extensive 4,000-year-old Bronze Age cemetery.

  • St Catherine’s Chapel

    14th Century chapel on the hill south of Abbotsbury village. The chapel was used as a lighthouse and has a small turret.

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