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Wareham – the 13th burh to be cited in the Burghal Hidage

Kingdom Type of Burh No. of Hides O.S. Grid Ref
Wessex Burghal Town 1600 SY92318744


It is thought that the late Saxon town plan has been fossilised within that of the modern town. The line of the 9th century burh defences is largely marked by surviving earthworks. The southern side of the town in this period is probably marked by the edge of the river terrace. The grid pattern of streets is also thought to date to this period, though precisely which streets were in existence within the Saxon burh is uncertain and the pattern may have developed piecemeal. It is assumed that North/South Street and East/West Street were the two main streets upon which burgages were established during the Saxon period, though the status of the ancient trackway along the line of Bells Orchard and Cow Lane at this time is unclear. North Street may have linked with a Roman road to Woodbury Hill near Bere Regis, and South Street with a possible south road on a causeway to Purbeck. The extent of Saxon settlement within the town is not certain, but the burgages may have filled the southern half of the town and extended along the full length of North Street as far as St Martin’s church. It is assumed that Saxon markets were held either along the main streets of South and North Street, or on the site of St John’s Hill, close to the quay. The quay probably ran along the line immediately in front of the buildings that form the northern limit of The Quay today. The church of Lady St Mary is the site of the late 7th century Minster church. St Martin’s church at the north end of North Street, close to the presumed site of the north gate, was built in the late 11th century. St Andrew’s Church lay close to the presumed site of the south gate, in an analogous position to St Martin’s.

Text from Dorset Historic Towns Survey: Wareham pp 26-27.

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