Friday, 25 September 2015

There's some seriously old history in Dorset

Before I start talking about what we've seen, can everyone raise a glass 
Victorian Gallery at the Dorset County Museum 
to Dave whose birthday it is today!

Happy Birthday Boyfriend!!

We are discovering amazingly ancient history here in Dorset. The nearby coastline is known as the Jurassic Coast and much is made of its being England's first natural World Heritage Site. I wonder how many other such fascinating places you all have blogged about? There's a linkytools linkup at the end of this post to share your own favourites.

On Tuesday we ventured into Dorchester for the afternoon. It's a nice enough town although I wasn't blown away by it. Perhaps the grey skies didn't do it justice? We spent a good hour or so touring the Dorset County Museum which has a strange mix of exhibits on show. Entrance is about £6 (just over for me, just under for Dave) and I particularly wanted to see the huge Pliosaur skull which is shown below. It wasn't actually eating a fire extinguisher!  I loved the architecture of the Victorian Gallery (pictured above) which is a beautiful room and so-called because of its period of construction rather than its content. Here there were artworks, sculptures, the remains of a Roman coffin, floor mosaics, fossils and pinned butterflies. Then upstairs features cases crammed with relatively modern items including an egg box from Tesco! Throughout the museum, some cases and displays were neatly labelled whereas others, frustratingly, had no information at all .

Pliosaur jaws 
The Jurassic Coast Gallery, in which the fossil is displayed, was opened
by Sir David Attenborough and also includes this wonderful spiral graphic representation of Earth's entire history. I can just about cope with imagining in hundreds of years - Normans, Vikings, Anglo Saxons, Romans - but when we start talking in millions of years, it's like the history equivalent of Monopoly money and my brain overloads! (You can click on the image here to bring up a larger version where hopefully the text will be readable. It is a little blurred.)

The Museum also houses a large literary display in Writer's Dorset. The focus is on the local connection to Thomas Hardy - whose books I must one day try to read - and I liked the recreation of his study which had been modelled on his home at nearby Max Gate. Photographs and posters advertising the recent film version of Far from the Madding Crowd cover one wall.

After the Museum, we walked out to the Roman Town House, only five minutes away round the far side of the Council offices - or ten to fifteen minutes if you go the long way around. This site is free to visit and consists mostly of the remains of low stone walls and building foundations. There are a few sections of mosaic still visible behind their protective glass. A lot of effort has gone into providing explanatory diagrams and descriptions of the house and we enjoyed trying to fit these to what we saw in front of us.

I would love to see your travel blog posts about fabulous historic places. Old and new posts are all welcome and a link back to my blog would be great, but isn't essential! Add your links below:

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