• The Dorset County Boundary Survey website

Dorset County Boundary Survey Group

Dorset County Boundary

Tools, notes and guides to assist in the research and recording of boundary and features to build the Hercological Record


Next Field Meeting:

Wednesday 2 August 2017, 10.00 for 10.30am.

Chardstock. Meet at The George Inn, Chardstock.


Dorset county boundaries - c1831 - c1890
Dorset Boundaries
The boundaries of Dorset changed several times though out the 19th and 20th Century


Dorset Boundaries
Parish boundary across Eggardon,
drawn in 45AD by Publius Anicius
Peter Laurie

Parish Boundaries in Dorset:
could some have been drawn by the Romans?

A paper by Peter Laurie on the observation that many of the 35 hill forts in and around Dorset have parish boundaries passing
through or very near to them.

DNHAS paper
Shire Rack
Shire Rack
Graham Hoddinott

Shire Rack at Sixpenny Handley

Two Anglo-Saxon Charters include the parish of Sixpenny Handley in north-east Dorset sharing its northern boundary with the modern Wiltshire parishes of Berwick St John, Ebbesborne Wake and Bower Chalke, a section of the county boundary which has for some hundreds of years been known as the 'Shire Rack'

meresman book
Shire Rack
Boundary perambulations
from National Archives

Boundary mereing c1884

Meresman Books contain the boundary perambulations recording the agreement between members of adjoining parish. Copies of these are held in the National Archives at Kew.

Boundary of conservation importance

Commentary and Criteria

The current protection legislation may miss many boundary structures. Dorset's historic records for planning, landscape features section, has only one classification of interest to the planning system: scheduled monument.

Thus it is crucial for a feature to be scheduled. This is analogous to the situation in conserving wildlife where SSSIs were the only classification recognised.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust project to notify the planners in advance of an application minimises the work following from the inevitable objection during statutory consultation. This system is now recognised by the authorities as a valuable tool in preventing further loss of biodiversity and is a good model on which to base a scheme to conserve the historic boundaries.

Land Boundary Classification

Boundary Classification

The idea for a classification scheme arose from a study of the shire boundary of Dorset and pondering on the characteristics that might be unique to a county boundary. Many features are common to substantial lengths of a boundary whilst absent from other sections. Can anything of historical significance be inferred from this, or does it simply reflect the terrain being crossed ? Indeed, how much of the boundary is marked by natural features like streams and ridges, or by manmade structures like banks and hedges, or just not marked at all ? These and other questions frequently cropped up in discussion and the way to answer them would be to classify lengths of boundary so that the data can be analysed. Ultimately it might be possible to give a collective name to lengths with characters in common.


Some primary sites that provide Dorset related information


Main site link to current county, district and parish councils


Archives and Museums


Information, help and assistance in Dorset family history

Historic Links

A range of historic information sources


Historic mapping

Geographic information

Current mapping

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