Festival of Archaeology: Talk

Hidden Patterns in the South Dorset Landscape | Jonathan Harwood

29 July 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The positions of churches in the South Dorset Landscape, when connected together by straight lines (drawn from church symbol to church symbol on a map at a scale of 1:25,000) reveal deliberate and meaningful patterns.

Jonathan began to explore these patterns in 1997 and, over the years, has carefully considered whether these arrangements of churches in the landscape could be the result of chance. This would be the most obvious explanation since, apart from anything else, it seems out of the question that surveying techniques in Antiquity would have been up to the job. We have a strong tendency, however, to underestimate the capabilities of our ancestors.

In this talk, Jonathan explores his hypothesis that one particularly remarkable pattern encapsulates the, to us, very curious beliefs and practices of Gnostic Christians who were present amongst the villa-owning elite in Dorset during the Roman period.

In the 17th century, a group of puritans in Dorchester pursued a project to transform the town into the ‘New Jerusalem’. More than a thousand years before it seems that another group was motivated to imprint a scaled-up version of the floor plan of the Holy of Holies of the Temple of Solomon onto the Dorset landscape.


Important Announcement

On Friday 2nd June 2023 the cafe TASTE at Dorset Museum cafe will be closed from 2pm
for a private function.

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Jonathan Harwood

Jonathan has a degree in Social Anthropology and spent 29 years in HM Land Registry. He is now retired and lives in Weymouth with his wife and two cats. He enjoys researching, writing, painting and playing the lute.


Home of Hillforts & Henges is an exciting new event from 21st to 31st July that will celebrate Dorchester’s neolithic and iron age landscape, rich in earthworks and the people that have lived here for over 6,000 years.

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Co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, the Festival offers hundreds of events nationwide, organised by museums, heritage organisations, national and country parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists.

The Festival of Archaeology will take place between 16 – 31 July 2022.

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Community Exhibition

18 February - 22 June 2023

The Art of Seeing: An exhibition of photographs by Dorchester Camera Club

The Club is delighted to have this opportunity to exhibit some of their members’ prints in the Dorset Museum together with an audio-visual presentation.

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Special Exhibition

22 March - 25 June 2023

ARTIST ROOMS Louise Bourgeois

Explore the work of Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), one of the most important figures of modern and contemporary art. This spring Dorset Museum will show a major presentation of her work in this ARTIST ROOMS touring exhibition featuring works jointly owned by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland.

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Special Display

29 March - 9 July 2023

PJ Harvey – Orlam

Dorset Museum is now displaying an archive of material relating to PJ Harvey’s verse novel Orlam.

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ArtyFacts Workshop

4 June 2023, 10:00am-12:00noon

Louise Bourgeois’ Weaving | ArtyFacts

Help us to create a wonderful woven installation in our Sculpture Courtyard inspired by spider's webs and the artworks of Louise Bourgeois.

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4 June 2023, 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Dorchester Through the Lens of Thomas Hardy | Mark Chutter

Join Mark Chutter, Chairman and Academic Director of the Thomas Hardy Society, to explore how Hardy presents the town of Dorchester in his writing.

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10 June 2023, 10:00am - 12:00noon

Roman Town House Tours

A guided tour of one of the best examples of a Roman Town House in England.

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17 June 2023, 10:00am - 12:00noon

Roman Town House Tours

A guided tour of one of the best examples of a Roman Town House in England.

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21 June 2023, 2:00pm - 2:45pm

Collections Discovery Centre Tour

Join our Collections Team for an opportunity to explore behind the scenes in the Museum’s Collections Discovery Centre.

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Museum after hours

22 June 2023, 5:00pm - 6:30pm

FREE | Museum After Hours

Join us for an opportunity to explore the Museum at this FREE late opening.

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