Possible Warland connections with the Romans (AD 43 - AD 60's)

Many of the earliest Dorset Warlands are recorded as living or farming in the area of Lake Farm, close to Lambs Green and just off the Wimborne by-pass in Dorset. Lake Farm was, in fact, the location of the headquarters of Vespasian who, along with his forces, invaded Britain in AD 43.

The following information is an extract from the book 'Corfe Mullen - The Origins of a Dorset Village', written by Norman Field and published by Richards Estate Agents of Corfe Mullen (ISBN 0 951311301). The information is reproduced here; permission to reproduce this material was requested in 2003.

Vespasian built a 40 acre Roman fortress at Lake Farm, 'just outside the Corfe Mullen parish boundary ... where today the new roundabout leads onto the Wimborne bypass'. (NOTE: This refers to the A31 visible on the map. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corfe_Mullen). According to the book, Vespasian chose this location because he was able to control movement through the natural gap that later gave Corfe its name. (Corfe comes from the same Anglo-Saxon root as 'carve' and meant a 'pass'.). Earlier travellers (on foot) would have had to by-pass a dense zone of trees and move down past the site of the later parish church, where the going was easier and the trees thinned out near the river - an obvious 'corfe' or gap, with good arable soil on a low terrace of valley gravel.

Importantly, Vespasian's troops were protected by the river defence of the Stour, at a distance of only three miles from Badbury Rings, the main British stronghold in the district. At the same time, Hengistbury and Dudsbury were cut off from contact with other tribal centres up the Stour Valley. A further advantage was that supplies could easily be brought up from the deep-water anchorage off the Hamworthy peninsula, not far off to the south. To that end, the first road was soon built, single-width to begin with, connecting harbour and the Roman base.

Further roads were soon built extending from the Lake fortress. These include roads running north-west to Badbury and on to Hod Hill (where a smaller Roman fort was installed), and north-east towards Winchester, and roads that passed through lower and upper Corfe Mullen, connecting Lake with Dorchester and Wareham. The early Roman road that ran through upper Corfe Mullen was the predecessor to the present Wareham road. (Further details of the roads are available upon request).

Various excavations have uncovered a range of Roman artifacts in the area over the years. Lake Farm military base closed in the AD 60's. The surrounding land again became farming land.

During the short period that the Romans were based at Lake Farm, there was no sizeable civil settlement, unlike at Exeter and Gloucester, which also had early Roman garrisons. However, Roman style pottery was still being made in the third and fourth centuries. In fact, the kilns around Poole Harbour continued to supply native wares to the Roman army long after its departure from Dorset.

Page created 2008, updated 8 June 2014, Copyright Andrew Warland.