Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia



A county in southwest England, on the English Channel coast and is bordered by Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire.

It was conquered by Cheldric the Saxon in the early days of Arthur’s reign, but Arthur liberated it. It was later ruled in Arthur’s time by Earl Jonathal.

Dorset | 0 to the 9th century AD

Pre-Roman Period | Before 43 AD
The area that is now Dorset was inhabited by Celtic tribes, notably the Durotriges. They lived in hillforts and engaged in agriculture and trade.

Roman Occupation | 43-410
With the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD, Dorset became part of the Roman province of Britannia. The Romans established settlements and infrastructure, and evidence of Roman villas and roads has been discovered in the region.

Christianization | 4th century onward
The roots of Christianity in Britain can be traced back to the Roman period. By the fourth century, there was a Christian presence in Roman Britain, and some inhabitants in the region that is now Dorset may have been exposed to early Christian teachings.

The widespread Christianization of Dorset and other parts of England took place during the Anglo-Saxon period. Missionaries from Rome and other Christianized areas played a crucial role in spreading Christianity. The arrival of St. Augustine in 597 AD marked a significant turning point. Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great (Gregorio), landed in Kent and played a key role in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. The influence of Augustine’s mission extended to other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, including Wessex, of which Dorset was a part.

The establishment of bishoprics and monasteries contributed to the Christianization process. Monastic centers, such as Sherborne Abbey in Dorset, played important roles in both religious and educational activities.

Post-Roman Period | 5th – 7th centuries
In the early fifth century, the Roman legions withdrew from Britain to defend Rome and its territories in the face of various threats, leaving Britain vulnerable to external influences. After the Romans left, the region experienced a period of instability. Different Germanic tribes began migrating to Britain, including the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. Dorset eventually became part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Wessex, one of the major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which emerged during this time.

Anglo-Saxon Period | 7th – 9th centuries
The Kingdom of Wessex was likely a small sub-kingdom within the larger Kingdom of the Gewisse (West Saxons), but it eventually expanded its influence over time. The landscape was dotted with small Anglo-Saxon settlements, and Christianity began to spread in the area. The legendary King Ine, who ruled Wessex in the seventh century, issued laws that are considered some of the earliest written in England. These laws provide insights into the social structure and customs of the time.

Many place names in Dorset have Anglo-Saxon origins, reflecting the cultural impact of the incoming settlers. Some of these place names, such as Dorchester (originally Durnovaria) and Wimborne (originally Wimbaninga Burna), can still be found in the county today.

Viking Raids | 8th – 9th centuries
Viking raids became a significant concern in the late eighth and ninth centuries. Dorset, like other parts of England, faced Viking invasions and raids during this period. Alfred the Great, who ruled Wessex in the late ninth century, played a crucial role in resisting Viking invasions and laying the foundation of the Kingdom of England.

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138