A Brief History of the Association
President: Peter Bellamy
The Dorchester Association arose from a feeling that the General Public should play a greater part in the work of the Dorchester Museum and the thought that, whilst archaeology was reasonably provided for in the area, Dorchester's rich historical background was being neglected. 50 or 60 people attended the first meeting on 22nd October 1982, which was held with the co-operation of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society and had substantial input from museum stalwarts including Ron Lucas and Norman Field. Barry Cunliffe became the first President. At the time it was hoped that research would form a larger part of our activities than it has done but members are still active in this respect and, even after 25 years, the committee still wants to encourage this. The membership subscription at that time was £3 (now it is £10 - what else has only increased by a factor 3?) and members were concerned that the income would not be sufficient to support planned activities but Margaret Croft started regularly baking a cake for a raffle and this balanced the books!
Dorchester townsfolk claim to have been among the first to protect our heritage when they conserved the roman and pre-roman monuments by forcing changes to the route of the railways and the fledgling Association was proud to continue this tradition. English Heritage had put forward a proposal for a large visitor centre and reproduction Iron Age village near Maiden Castle and the Association felt that this was ill conceived since the large number of visitors it would need to be viable would have a detrimental effect on the monument itself. Maiden Castle, of course, lies within the Duchy of Cornwall so we wrote a letter of complaint to Prince Charles. Members of the Association subsequently met Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who appeared to be aware of the issue, and asked for their support. Members also attended a public meeting at which the chairman of English Heritage spoke in favour of the centre but unwisely allowed less than complimentary remarks about Dorset people to be broadcast over an open microphone. The centre was never built. Since that time the Association has continued to voice its opinion on issues that it sees as within its domain usually in the form of letters to appropriate bodies.
The Association now has about 100 members, has maintained its core activities and seeks to obtain the best and most interesting speakers. This has culminated in 2008 with a lecture from Professor Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University who has been digging in the vicinity of Stonehenge . He subsequently hosted a field trip to his, and all the other universities' digs, where the professor at each trench described the activities, finds and conclusions - a tremendous day witnessing changes in the perception of the past.
To become a member please email "information" at the address on our home page or speak to our membership Secretary who usually takes the charges at our monthly meetings
If you wish to discuss one of our events please email "prog.sec" as on the home page.