In the Neolithic period the inhabitants of the South Dorset Ridgeway had built linear monuments, but in the middle of the third millennium BC a new type of earthwork was built - the ‘henge'. An external, circular bank and ditch (or series of pits) enclosed a variety of structures in either stone or wood. The most famous example of this is Stonehenge.
The largest henge monuments are interestingly focussed in and around what is now Dorchester. The best example is at Mount Pleasant (SY 70998992), south east of the town. This large site (around 370 metres in diameter) a huge timber palisade, and inside smaller timber circles about 43 metres across. Other henges in Dorchester are at Maumbury Rings and beneath what is now the Waitrose supermarket car park.
On the Ridgeway itself three stone circles survive, The Nine Stones, Kingston Russell and Hampton Down. All date from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age period.
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