Home of Hillforts and Henges

June 22, 2022

Home of the Hillforts and Henges

Home of Hillforts and 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.

The event is part of the National CBA Festival of Archaeology 2022 and activities will take place at multiple locations across the town. It will launch at Dorset Museum with a special open evening and a talk on the Ridgeway Vikings. An action-packed programme will include a series of lectures at Dorset Museum and a new archaeological dig at National Trust’s Max Gate with Meet the Archaeologist sessions. There will be guided walks over the landscape (including Maiden Castle), antiquities handling and family crafts at Dorset Museum at weekends.

The event concludes with an epic day of discovery and fun at Maumbury Rings with Hengefest on Sunday, 31st July where there will be animal handling, bushcraft, storytelling, nature crafts, music, performers and other activities that celebrate the sacred history of the space and its vibrant history.

The open countryside around Dorchester contains many ancient scheduled monuments and falls within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (DAONB).  As well as demonstrating pride in our ancient heritage, Home of Hillforts & Henges aims to promote wellbeing and good mental health through appreciation and enjoyment of local nature.

Dorchester Town Council Tourism Development Officer, Matilda Manley, said: “Dorchester is a very special place, not many towns can boast two iron age hillforts and three neolithic henges! These are fantastic features of our town that we should be celebrating, and it is great that we are now doing that. Maiden Castle is one of the biggest hillforts in Europe! Maumbury Rings has such an amazing history, starting as a sacred henge and then being adopted by Romans for use as an amphitheatre. It is a great space that is still used and loved. It is brilliant to be celebrating its history and importance to the town today”

With grateful thanks to our headline sponsors, Kingston Maurward and Dorchester Town Council.

Festival of Archaeology 2022

Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

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9 September 2022 - 14 October 2022

Drawing Into Life – 6 Week Creative Course

Six week art course designed for adults interested in art and archaeology. This new course is an exciting opportunity to get up close with some extraordinary artefacts in the collection at Dorset Museum. You will be drawing inspiration from prehistoric art including Neolithic flint tools, Anglo Saxon gold, precious burial goods, Roman mosaics, decorative textiles and archaeological maps amongst others, and have the chance to work directly from the Elisabeth Frink collection.

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Community Exhibition

3 October 2022 - 8 February 2023


Unmasked is a local, voluntary project that began in the dark days of March 2020, when a new disease called COVID-19 literally stopped the world as we knew it.

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Poetry Evening


Who’s in the Next Room?

Poems by Thomas Hardy with new writing from Paul Hyland, Kate Scott, Catherine Simmonds & Pam Zinnemann-Hope

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Big Draw 2022

9 October 2022, 10:30am - 12noon

The Big Draw at Dorset Museum

Come and take part in our Big Draw event at Dorset Museum. Inspired by the natural world around us, colour and natural forms, help us create a giant collage in the style of Henri Rousseau to display in one of our galleries.

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11 October 2022, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Archaeology Highlights Tour

Explore archaeological treasures held by Dorset Museum – from Bronze Age gold to medieval silver -  in this volunteer-led tour.

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13 October 2022, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Museum after hours

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

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13 October 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

A persistent place: a new chronology for Neolithic Dorchester

The area underneath and around the town of Dorchester was an important place for Neolithic people, who built a variety of monuments here over a period of 2000 years. In this talk, Dr Susan Greaney discusses the research project that has obtained radiocarbon dates from samples of antler picks, charcoal and human remains held in the Dorset Museum collection and has been able to build a brand new chronology for the monuments.

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21 October 2022, 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Strings Forever!

Join baroque violinist Emma-Marie Kabanova on a musical journey back in time exploring the dance tunes and folk music beloved by Thomas Hardy and his family.  Tim Laycock and Colin Thompson contribute the traditional dance tunes and folksongs of Dorset on violin, concertina and melodeon.

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