Dorset

 

A county on the coast of southern England, also known as Dorsetshire. Its neighbouring counties are, from west to east, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Winchester. The climate here is relatively balmy for England, with warm summers, mild winters, and more sunshine than most of the rest of the British Isles.

The terrain varies between downs (country with broad hills), steep ridges, low-lying valleys, flood plains, dense forests, dramatic coastal cliffs and coves, beaches, marshes and heath. Several rivers make their way to the sea through Dorset, the principal ones being the Stour, Avon, Frome and Piddle, but there are also many smaller streams and tributaries. Crops, cattle and sheep are the main agricultural industries in Dorset, and there are a number of sizeable settlements that have grown across the county as market locations. Many of these settlements have castles of varying size and strength. A few of them have been granted town charters, giving them some degree of independence from the local nobles.

The huge natural harbour of Poole lies in the southeast. Here the old harbour town of Wareham is in a state of decline as the neighbouring town of Poole is in a better position to take advantage of the rapidly growing wool trade. South of the harbour are the hills of Purbeck, famed for its marble, and dominated by the royal castle of Corfe.

Off the southernmost tip of Dorset lies the island of Portland. Rufus castle, owned by the earl of Gloucester, looks over several villages and farmland, as well as limestone quarries. The village of Fortuneswell is said to contain a well  in which one's luck can be foreseen.

A large expanse of dense woodland in the northeast part of Dorsetshire is Royal Forest, and there are several royal hunting lodges on its fringe. Other areas of Royal Forest are scattered throughout the county, although not all of these domains actually contain any woodland.

Remnants of old civilisations such as the Britons, Romans and Saxons can be found across the county. This land has been an important agricultural, mercantile and maritime hub for a long time. There are many legends and tales of strange things here.

Near the county border with Wiltshire to the northeast, on the banks of the river Avon, and not far from the fortified town of Old Sarum, work is set to begin on a great new cathedral which will become the new seat of the Bishop of Salisbury, Richard Poore. Further north of Old Sarum is the site of Stonehenge.

Earl Gilbert de Clare holds most of the county of Dorset, but the royally appointed sheriff Peter de Maulay is the county's chief agent of the king, and he is broadly responsible for enforcing the king's writ and collecting his taxes and dues.

Dorset

Ars Magica - Nigrasaxa Dr Rick Dagless