Minor Settlement and Port

Hamworthy was the site of an Iron Age settlement before it was taken over by the Romans in the 1st century. This settlement probably began life c.44AD as a supply port for Vespasian’s Legio II Augusta, at least the portion of it that was housed a couple of hours march to the north in the vexillation fortress at Lake Farm.

Though the legionaries departed for their new legionary fortress at Isca (Exeter, Devon) c.55AD, the port in Poole Harbour continued in use. Gaulish merchants traded goods from the continent for local wares, particularly salt which was made by evaporating seawater, also Kimmeridge Shale and Purbeck Limestone which was quarried just a few miles to the south-west. The minor Roman settlement nearby at Wareham on the west side of Poole Harbour, provided the manpower to quarry the stone and shale from the Isle of Purbeck.

The Romans made use of the harbour, and built a road from Hamworthy to Badbury Rings.

Excavations in 2000 near the shore in Hamworthy revealed two sets of double ditches at right angles to each other, protecting the port on the landward side and enclosing a building which may have been a barracks.

References for Hamworthy

  • The Roman Invasion of Britain by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1993);
  • Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001).

Roman Roads near Hamworthy

N (6) to Lake Farm