Wareham's amazing history!

10,000 years in the making...

The history of Wareham is the history of England itself!

Wareham has long been recognised as an important site, nestling between two rivers and also close to the sea, and so it’s no surprise that its foundations go back over 2000 years. It was once a stronghold for Alfred the Great, and is in fact one of only two Saxon-walled settlements left in the UK. It is ideally placed to explore the beautiful Purbeck peninsula and the Jurassic coast, a world heritage site.

The modern view of Wareham, a sleepy picturesque Dorset market town, nestled between two rivers, seems far from its long and sometimes violent history.

Wareham has seen almost continuous occupation since the end of the last Ice Age over 10,000 years ago. Excavations have produced evidence of early Mesolithic activity dating to around 9000 BC, and have produced the largest assemblage of Middle Bronze Age pottery in this country.

However, due to its location next to the River Frome, Wareham has been under constant threat of invasion. From Romans invaders to Viking raids it is perhaps not surprising that King Alfred the Great ordered the building of the defensive walls that still stand today.  These walls were used again during the English Civil War and were ideally placed for the bloody executions of the Monmouth Rebellion. 

Despite almost burning to the ground in the 18th century, Wareham survived the centuries largely intact. It still continued its association with military activity though with its nearby military camps, and its association with Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence of Arabia effigy in St Martin's on the Walls

Now let's travel back in time...!

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…
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