Roman Wareham

43 – 410 AD

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Roman pottery kilns
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Threshold to Bucknowle villa

Wareham - An admin centre for Rome?...

Given Wareham’s ideal location next to the navigable River Frome to the south and the Piddle to the north, it is commonly believed by historians that there would have been a Roman settlement here, perhaps a centre for officials to support the widespread industrial activity in the area.

Another theory is that Wareham may have been the location for a Roman military fort or camp – perhaps used during the subduing of the native Durotriges tribe of Dorset under emperor Flavius Vespasianus in AD44 / 46. However, any evidence of this settlement are still lost in time, hidden under the streets of Wareham today.

Certainly, during the Victorian period and early 20th century it was commonly believed that the Wareham settlement was originally Roman but little archaeological evidence has been uncovered to support this. However what is known is that there was substantial Roman activity in the area – with many thousands of pieces of Roman pottery discovered during the Bestwall excavation. Also, excavations of the Wareham walls have revealed some Roman occupation material.

A Roman kiln was discovered near Nutcrack lane in Stoborough and there were several Roman quarries in the Purbeck area indicating strong industrial activity.

Roman villas have also been uncovered nearby such as the one at east Creech and also near Corfe Castle – Bucknowle villa. 

Bestwall Quarry dig. After the dig and the gravel extraction the area was created into a wildlife lake and conservation area for the RSPB. The lake can be overlooked from Bestwall park along the marked footpaths.

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Bucknowle Villa excavation
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Bucknowle villa plan in AD 300

Let's continue our travel through Wareham's history...!

Prehistoric Period

Prehistoric evidence has been found in Wareham, from worked flint to ancient huts…
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Roman Period

Take a trip back to the Roman age, where a Roman villa has been found…
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Saxon Age

King Alfred the Great’s battles against the Vikings, and the building of Wareham’s famous walls...
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Norman Age

During the ‘Anarchy’ civil war Wareham is again at the centre of British events…
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Renaissance period

Tudor to Stuart Period. Clashes in Wareham between the Roundheads and Cavaliers during the English Civil War, and the bloody executions on Wareham’s walls…
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Georgian Period

The Great Fire of Wareham and why Wareham was described as a ‘Rotten Borough' during this period… !
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Victorian Era

The industrial revolution results in a workhouse being built, but also later a brickworks, a pottery factory, and a brewery...
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20th Century

Wareham plays an important role in the two World Wars, and later in the century, while it loses industries, it gains thousands of tourists…
Let's go!

Useful links / Further reading…

Wareham & District Development Trust: Buckknowle Roman Villa

  • Interesting article about Bucknowle, plus you can download their leaflet.

Bestwall Quarry Archaeological Project 1995

  • Download a detailed 29 page report of the Bestwall Quarry Dig, phase 4, 1995.

AGG-Net: Looking beneath the surface at Bestwall

  • Interesting article about the archaeological dig, Bestwall Quarry and development of a nature reserve.

Wareham Museum

  • The museum, located at the Town Hall in East Street, has an interesting display of local archaeology discoveries including the reconstruction of a pottery kin found at Bestwall.
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