First stop today was Maiden Castle just outside Dorchester. This was no ordinary “run of the mill” castle ruin which you fall across everywhere in the UK. Maiden Castle is the largest and most complex Iron Age hill forts in Britain. The fort has vast multiple ramparts which enclose an inner fort area the size of 50 football pitches! The fort is believed to have been home to several hundred people during the Iron Age (800BC- 43AD).
Walking around the perimeter rampart it was difficult to get a prospect across the whole of the fort due to its size. The multiple ramparts were ingenious and the complexities of the ramparts at the entrances meant that any un-welcomes were quickly spotted. An unusual and amazing place!
Second stop of the day was the beautiful town of Sherborne which was once the capital of Wessex, its church having cathedral status until Old Serum was established in Salisbury in 1075. The church was founded in AD 705 and later became a Benedictine abbey. The town also boast two castles, an old and a new one which both are associated with Sir Walter Raleigh. The town also has one of the top independent schools in Britain Sherborne School having been established in 1550.
We wandered through the town enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful building. It was too nice a day to look at the old castles but the church was a must. The interior of the church was just stunning with an outstanding fan vaulted roof and beautiful stain glass windows. Alfred the Great’s two brothers Ethelred and Ethelbert are buried in the church Just opposite the church were the almshouse built in 1427 as a hospital.
It was our last day in Dorset before we headed into Cornwall and it had certainly been a brilliant day.