43 – 410 AD
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.
Let's continue our travel through Wareham's history...!
Useful links / Further reading…
- Interesting article about Bucknowle, plus you can download their leaflet.
- Download a detailed 29 page report of the Bestwall Quarry Dig, phase 4, 1995.
- Interesting article about the archaeological dig, Bestwall Quarry and development of a nature reserve.
- 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.