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Dorset historic towns survey

Dorset has a rich variety of historic towns, each with its own special character and story. The Dorset Historic Towns Survey analysed this historic character, so important to the individuality, sense of place and economic well-being of the county's towns.

A diverse range of features and factors combine to give towns their local distinctiveness. It is all too easy for significant elements to be damaged or lost through modern development if we don't understand the historic urban environment. A technique called characterisation is used to identify, analyse and understand the historic elements which make each town special.

A report highlights aspects of each town's historical development and how this has shaped the modern town. It also identifies gaps in our knowledge and areas which would repay further research.

To date, the project has studied 21 towns or former towns: Abbotsbury, Beaminster, Blandford ForumBridport, Cerne Abbas, Charmouth, Christchurch, Corfe Castle, Cranborne, Gillingham, Lyme Regis, Milton Abbas, Newton Studland, ShaftesburySherborne, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Swanage, Wareham, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, and Wimborne Minster, and we hope to move on to Bournemouth and Poole in due course.

The project forms part of a national programme surveying the archaeology, topography and historic buildings of England's historic towns and cities (also known as an Extensive Urban Survey or EUS, and supported by English Heritage, now Historic England (opens in a new window) ). The Dorset Historic Towns Survey project was highly commended in the 2011 Dorset Archaeological Awards.

Here are the reports:

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