boy thatching roof

Dorset is a very rural county so it may surprise you that it boasts a long history of industry too. Technological change has meant that much of this industry has died out.

However, what remains gives us a great insight into the Dorset AONB's rich natural resources and the way people lived their lives in the past.

Trade and wealth has come from the ground for centuries. In Roman times for example, Kimmeridge shale was used to make personal ornaments and furniture, used locally and traded further afield. Purbeck marble is another example of a valuable local rock cherished for building projects and monuments since the Middle Ages. Rare ball clay from the Wareham has had a long history of use in pottery production and is still used today.

Growing crops also stimulated flourishing industry. Hemp thrived particularly well in Dorset and was used to make rope, sailcloth and net from as early as the 13th century and you can still see remnants of this industry in the Bridport area. Thatch was grown locally and used for thatching cottages, many of which still survive today.

The Dorset AONB stretches along most of the Dorset coast and has a long history of fishing, smuggling and other maritime industries. These ways of life have left their mark over many of our towns and villages giving them a special character and understanding of how Dorset's people once lived. Even today, fishing helps supports local communities and brings our heritage alive.

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