Dorset is a maritime county with a long and
varied coastline, and a long and complex history.
Some aspects of this past are well known, others
less so but all are equally fascinating, from the
three thousand year old carving of a ship, which
was found inWales, but which depicts a vessel
from Dorset, to the vicious pirates which infested
the Isle of Purbeck. From the unlikely heroes who
swept these pirates from the sea, to the
merchants who sailed to Africa and brought gold
and ivory to the tiny port of Lyme Regis.
Even aspects of the coast that may seem dull,
such as sea defences and land reclamation, can
have an amazing history. From the first attempts
to keep back the sea in the 770s, to the
grandiose scheme nine hundred years later to
drain the Fleet Lagoon, to the military men who
turned their skills at fighting the French to fighting
the sea, and who rebuilt the Cobb at Lyme Regis
so that it has stood firm for two hundred years,
the story is intriguing and exciting.
Finally this book can suggest where you can see,
perhaps surprising, traces of the coast’s remarkable
past. Evidence of the Black Death, which
entered Britain at Weymouth in 1348, carvings of
the ships which took the stone to pave London’s
streets, or the many different lifeboat stations at
Lyme Regis (and the curious fate of the earliest).
Dorset and the Sea tells the remarkable story of
possibly Dorset’s greatest natural resource and
the relationship that Man has had with it over the
Gordon Le Pard is a maritime archaeologist
who has been exploring the
Dorset Coast all his life, and knows it
well in all its moods. He been researching
and writing about the coast for many
years on subjects as varied as storms
and sea marks, shipwrecks and fossil
Imprint: Dorset Books. ISBN 978 1 871164 76 3, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published November 2010.