Dorsetshire (Map) (2) - Framed Picture - 12" x 16"
Dorset (or archaically, Dorsetshire) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast.
The county town is Dorchester which is in the south. After the reorganisation of local government in 1974 the county's border was extended eastward to incorporate the Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch.
The county has a long history of human settlement stretching back to the Neolithic era. The Romans conquered Dorset's indigenous Celtic tribe, and during the early Middle Ages, the Saxons settled the area and made Dorset a shire in the 7th century.
The first recorded Viking raid on the British Isles occurred in Dorset during the eighth century, and the Black Death entered England at Melcombe Regis in 1348.
Dorset has seen much civil unrest: in the English Civil War, an uprising of vigilantes was crushed by Oliver Cromwell's forces in a pitched battle near Shaftesbury; the doomed Monmouth Rebellion began at Lyme Regis; and a group of farm labourers from Tolpuddle were instrumental in the formation of the trade union movement.
It is the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, who used the county as the principal setting of his novels, and William Barnes, whose poetry celebrates the ancient Dorset dialect.