Dorchester Dorset Walks 4

A Gallows Walk

A Gallows Walk is one in a series of free, self-guided Dorchester Dorset walks.

From the Town Pump, walk south down the left hand side of South Street to the Birthplace of Sir Frederick Treves (32). The son of an upholsterer, Treves (1853-1923) attended the school run by William Barnes. A fine surgeon, he pioneered removal of the appendix, and became surgeon to the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. He rescued John Merrick, the ‘Elephant Man’, from a freak show and wrote a book on the subject. He also wrote ‘Highways and Byways in Dorset’, which was first published in 1906.

Durngate Street (33) follows the line of the main Roman road through Durnovaria. Notice the plaque to the famous painter of Australian landscapes, Tom Roberts, who was born in this street. The statue of the Dorset Shepherd is a reminder of Dorchester’s on-going role as a market town with strong historic links to sheep and the wool industry.

Salisbury Fields (34), to the east of the old Roman wall, is a pleasant open park with an excellent children’s play area and is a superb venue for a picnic. There are views of St George’s, the parish church of Fordington. The beacon is used to mark important events such as the Queen’s Jubilee.

Gallows Hill (35) was one of the main sites used for public executions. The gaol once stood at the north end of Icen Way, where it joins the High Street. Condemned prisoners were offered a last drink at the Star, a pub opposite the Dinosaur Museum. Today the hill can be seen at its best in spring when it is covered in daffodils.

The Dorset Martyrs Statue (36) was completed in 1986 by sculptor Elisabeth Frink. The powerful bronze statues commemorate all those throughout Dorset who, down the ages, have died for their faith. Two martyrs face the figure of Death across a circular plaque with the message ‘For Christ and Conscience Sake’.

In summer, the elegant South Walks (37) are lined by leafy horse chestnuts and this area is arguably the most attractive in Dorchester. It marks the southern boundary of the Roman defences. Evidence of the outer rampart can still be seen on the far side of the road near the entrance to Sunninghill school.

The Roman Baths (38) were excavated in 1978 before being carefully covered over by the car park and day centre. It is hoped that one day they will be re-opened to the public.

Enter the basement of the Waitrose car park where there is an information board by the lifts and red mosaics on the floor illustrating a Neolithic Monument (39). The large red discs mark the position of some of the five to six hundred wooden posts that made up an enormous circular monument that was built over 5000 years ago. The area was large enough to contain 10 full-size football pitches and must have been of considerable importance in prehistoric times.

Take the lift or climb the stairs to the first floor of Tudor Arcade where there is a Tudor Arch (40), which once formed part of the yard of the ancient Greyhound Inn. There are also five panels located here telling the story of Dorchester down the ages. On the left we see an artist’s impression of how the wooden henge might have been erected. There is also an impression of Roman Durnovaria, medieval Dorecestre and finally 19th century Dorchester.