The Dorset Cross flag of Dorset
Dorset within England
Coordinates: 50°48′N 2°18′W / 50°48′N 2°18′W / 50.800; -2.300England
RegionSouth West
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantAngus Campbell
High SheriffPhilip Henry Warr of Canford Magna, Wimborne[1] (2019–20)
Area2,653 km2 (1,024 sq mi)
 • Ranked20th of 48
Population (mid-2018 est.)770,700
 • Ranked31st of 48
Density290/km2 (750/sq mi)
Ethnicity97.9% White
Unitary authorities
CouncilsBournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council
Dorset Council
Districts of Dorset
  1. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
  2. Dorset
Members of ParliamentList of MPs
PoliceDorset Police
Time zoneGreenwich Mean Time (UTC)
 • Summer (DST)British Summer Time (UTC+1)

Dorset (t/; archaically: Dorsetshire) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The ceremonial county comprises the unitary authority areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset. Covering an area of 2,653 square kilometres (1,024 sq mi), Dorset borders Devon to the west, Somerset to the north-west, Wiltshire to the north-east, and Hampshire to the east. The county town is Dorchester which is in the south. After the reorganisation of local government in 1974 the county's border was extended eastward to incorporate the Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch. Around half of the population lives in the South East Dorset conurbation, while the rest of the county is largely rural with a low population density.

The county has a long history of human settlement stretching back to the Neolithic era. The Romans conquered Dorset's indigenous Celtic tribe, and during the early Middle Ages, the Saxons settled the area and made Dorset a shire in the 7th century. The first recorded Viking raid on the British Isles occurred in Dorset during the eighth century, and the Black Death entered England at Melcombe Regis in 1348. Dorset has seen much civil unrest: in the English Civil War, an uprising of vigilantes was crushed by Oliver Cromwell's forces in a pitched battle near Shaftesbury; the doomed Monmouth Rebellion began at Lyme Regis; and a group of farm labourers from Tolpuddle were instrumental in the formation of the trade union movement. During the Second World War, Dorset was heavily involved in the preparations for the invasion of Normandy, and the large harbours of Portland and Poole were two of the main embarkation points. The former was the sailing venue in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and both have clubs or hire venues for sailing, Cornish pilot gig rowing, sea kayaking and powerboating.

Dorset has a varied landscape featuring broad elevated chalk downs, steep limestone ridges and low-lying clay valleys. Over half the county is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Three-quarters of its coastline is part of the Jurassic Coast Natural World Heritage Site due to its geological and palaeontologic significance. It features notable landforms such as Lulworth Cove, the Isle of Portland, Chesil Beach and Durdle Door. Agriculture was traditionally the major industry of Dorset but is now in decline and tourism has become increasingly important to the economy. There are no motorways in Dorset but a network of A roads cross the county and two railway main lines connect to London. Dorset has ports at Poole, Weymouth and Portland, and an international airport. The county has a variety of museums, theatres and festivals, and is host to the Great Dorset Steam Fair, one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe. It is the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, who used the county as the principal setting of his novels, and William Barnes, whose poetry celebrates the ancient Dorset dialect.


Dorset derives its name from the county town of Dorchester.[2] The Romans established the settlement in the 1st century and named it Durnovaria which was a Latinised version of a Common Brittonic word possibly meaning "place with fist-sized pebbles".[2] The Saxons named the town Dornwaraceaster (the suffix "ceaster" being the Old English name for a Roman town) and Dornsæte came into use as the name for the inhabitants of the area from "Dorn"—a reduced form of Dornwaraceaster—and the Old English word "sæte" meaning people.[2][3] It is first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in AD 845 and in the 10th century the county's archaic name, "Dorseteschyre" (Dorsetshire), was first recorded.[4]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Dorset
Ænglisc: Dorsǣte
العربية: دورست
aragonés: Dorset
asturianu: Dorset
Bân-lâm-gú: Dorset
български: Дорсет
brezhoneg: Dorset
català: Dorset
čeština: Dorset
Cymraeg: Dorset
dansk: Dorset
Deutsch: Dorset
eesti: Dorset
español: Dorset
Esperanto: Dorset
euskara: Dorset
français: Dorset
Frysk: Dorset
Gaelg: Dorset
galego: Dorset
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Dorset
한국어: 도싯주
हिन्दी: डॉर्सेट
Ido: Dorset
Bahasa Indonesia: Dorset
interlingua: Dorset
íslenska: Dorset
italiano: Dorset
עברית: דורסט
kernowek: Dorset
Latina: Dorcestria
latviešu: Dorseta
Lëtzebuergesch: Grofschaft Dorset
lietuvių: Dorsetas
magyar: Dorset
മലയാളം: ഡോർസെറ്റ്
मराठी: डॉर्सेट
Mirandés: Dorset
Nederlands: Dorset
Nedersaksies: Dorset
日本語: ドーセット
Nordfriisk: Dorset
norsk: Dorset
norsk nynorsk: Dorset
occitan: Dorset
پنجابی: ڈورسٹ
polski: Dorset
português: Dorset
română: Dorset
Runa Simi: Dorset
русский: Дорсет
Scots: Dorset
sicilianu: Dorset
Simple English: Dorset
slovenčina: Dorset (grófstvo)
slovenščina: Dorset
српски / srpski: Дорсет
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Dorset
suomi: Dorset
svenska: Dorset
Türkçe: Dorset
українська: Дорсет
اردو: ڈورسٹ
Tiếng Việt: Dorset
Volapük: Dorset
Winaray: Dorset
ייִדיש: דארסעט
粵語: 多實郡
中文: 多塞特郡