Dark Dorset Online Scrapbook is an archive of current and past events relating to local history, folklore and mysteries that can be discovered in the English county of Dorset.

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Saturday, 31 May 2008

Dorset Flag - Latest ideas for county flag

A narrowboater has come up with a novel idea for a Dorset flag - the one he has been sailing under for the last 12 years.

Grayham Rosamond, from Shipton Gorge near Bridport, needed a flag to sail under when he began narrowboating across the country.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 31st May 2008

Friday, 30 May 2008

LATEST PODCAST - Mysterious West 's Geoff Ward interviews Robert Newland author of Dark Dorset Calendar of Customs

Hear more from Kevan Manwaring and Robert Newland author of Dark Dorset Calendar of Customs on Geoff Ward's Mysterious West Podcast . He is also talking to Stephanie Morland, of Glastonbury, about the campaign to preserve the town's historic Bride's Mound following her official opening of a new gateway to the site last week. It was Stephanie's great-grandfather John Morland who carried out the first archaeological investigations of the ancient mound in the 1890s.

FIND OUT MORE - Source: Geoff Ward's Mysterious West Podcast Week 60

Dark Dorset Book Review - Close encounter with the Ooser in Darkest Dorset

An encounter with the Dorset Ooser at Dorchester Museum led Robert Newland deep into the mysterious world of folklore and legend.

It was this that drew Robert into years of research which have now produced two books and the Dark Dorset website.

One of the books, Dark Dorset: Tales of Mystery, Wonder and Terror, has been written with his childhood friend and neighbour at Weymouth, Mark North, and the other, Calendar Customs, is Robert's work alone.

"I suppose it all began with the Ooser," said Robert. "I thought, what's all that about? I acquired some books and discovered it was a fertility symbol which was carried during May Day and midwinter customs."

Now, Robert is one who firmly believes that the old traditions should be kept alive wherever possible to preserve our precious English heritage.

Mark is a friend of
Jon Downes, the director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, based at Woolsery in North Devon, and which has published the books.

As Jon says: "Mark and Robert have trekked across their native county of Dorset, not only collecting folk tales but attempting in many cases to investigate the truth behind these otherwise amorphous legends." Dark Dorset certainly shows the county in an eerie light, teeming with demons and monsters, witches and murderers, and strange phenomena including UFOs, crop circles and spectral black dogs and big cats.

In these profusely illustrated books of almost encyclopedic range, Robert and Mark have done Dorset a great service by preserving these strange tales, as well as the details of the county's quaint and alluring customs, for future generations.

? Dark Dorset: Tales of Mystery, Wonder and Terror, and Dark Dorset: Calendar Customs, are published by CFZ Press at £12.50 each. Visit

Source: Geoff Ward's Mysterious West, Western Daily Press 30th May 2008

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Dinosaur heads off to special exhibition

A 195-MILLION-YEAR-OLD dinosaur fossil found near Charmouth by a local collector is to be included in a special exhibition at Bristol City Museum.

The complete skeleton of a Scelidosaurus was first discovered by fossil hunter, David Sole, in December 2000 and is the most complete example of the species ever to have been found.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 29th May 2008

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Thursday, 22 May 2008

More Dorset Flag designs - Let's run them up the flagpole

Portland youngster Florence Roberts is the latest Echo reader to share her idea for a Dorset flag with us.

Florence, 12, again opted for the green, yellow, white and blue colour scheme that has proved so popular in the designs we have seen so far.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 22nd May 2008

Exhibition offers historic glimpse of Lim Valley life

A fascinating glimpse of agricultural life in the Lim Valley over the past couple of centuries will go on show in a three-day exhibition.

The exhibition, Farming in the Lim Valley, opens at Uplyme Village Hall on Thursday, May 29 and runs until Saturday, May 31.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 22nd May 2008

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Farmer in hole world of trouble

A giant hole opened up beneath this Land Rover as it was crossing a field of long grass on a farm.

David Ford, of Ilsington Farm, Tincleton, near Dorchester, said his 34-year-old son, Lee, had driven out at night to look for some cows.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Wednesday 21st May 2008

Garland Raises funds for recreation equipment

Garland Day, Tuesday, May 13 almost came and went in our house, unnoticed.

However, a knock at the door in the evening saw Clare James and three weary teenagers Max, Adam and Shannon carrying a beautiful garland.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Wednesday 21st May 2008

See previous blog entry to see video highlights of the Garland Day

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The truth is never the best policy

The Ministry of Defence does not deny that there are strange things to see in the sky. But it certainly has no evidence that alien spacecraft have landed on this planet.' So the government doesn't believe in little green men and who are we to disbelieve an organisation with such an unblemished record in telling the truth?

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Sunday 18th May 2008

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Watching Us...Watching Them!

The latest batch of the real X-Files to be opened up to the public has revealed the largest number of UFO sightings this century.

The Ministry of Defence logged 13 reports of close encounters in the West last year; the most since 1999.Wiltshire, also renowned for its crop circles, remains the UFO hotspot, with another six sightings, bringing the total 28 in the past nine years.

READ MORE - Source: Western Daily Press
17th May 2008

Friday, 16 May 2008

70-plus village kiosks may go

More than 70 rural telephone kiosks could be scrapped across West Dorset by BT.

The sweeping proposals emerged as Portesham residents battled to save their traditional green cast iron telephone box which is under threat for the second time in two years.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 16th May 2008

'Arrowhead' found on beach

A pensioner has discovered what he believes could be a flint arrowhead on Weymouth beach.

Retired Mansfield Town head groundsman Donald May, 66, is on holiday in Weymouth from his home in Nottinghamshire.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 16th May 2008

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Frome Valley Morris 30th Birthday Weekend

St. George's Hall, Fordington, Dorchester on Saturday 24th May

Frome Valley Morris Ceilidh band and friends with participating callers

Frome Valley are holding an afternoon Ceilidh during the Dorchester Arts weekend. This vibrant, though ancient, 24 strong side is celebrating its 30th Birthday on this day.

It is easy walking distance from the town, down the High Street (High East Street) and turn right at Fordington High Street, past the chip shop and up the hill until you reach the Church. The Hall is right behind the Church.

Come and celebrate with us. There will be live music, traditional ceilidh dancing, eccentric but electric performances by Frome Valley and above good company there to welcome you.

For info: call 01305 261156 or just turn up. Starts at 4pm until 7pm.

Read More: Frome Valley Morris to celebrate 30 years of Dance Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Coin on beach a relic of Ethelred

A Prehistoric tool and a coin dating back one thousand years were among the finds unearthed by Dorset treasure hunters.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo 15th May 2008

New Video Posted - Abbotbury's Garland Day - 13th May 2008

On the 13th May 2008, we went to Abbotsbury's Garland Day. Details of the traditions and customs can be found on our previous blog entry Herald the spring its Garland Day - the custom of Abbotsbury's Garland. The video below captures the spirit of Garland Day as the Garland is carried door-to-door around the village of Abbotsbury.

Close encounters

THE Ministry of Defence have opened up real life X Files to members of the public documenting hundreds of sightings of unexplained objects in the skies above Britain.

Do you believe in extraterrestrial life? Have you seen a UFO? Add your experiences and comments below.

Click here to view footage of lights in the sky over Charminster that caused a stir in May 2007

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 14th May 2008

Landslip: not over

It is not over yet, warn the authorities who are urging people to stay away from the dangerous landslip area in Lyme Regis.

The Spittles, between Lyme and Charmouth, shifted last Tuesday evening resulting in the worst landslide for 26 years as more than 400 metres of the Jurassic Coast was affected.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Thursday 15th May 2008

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Space oddity - MOD release previously unseen UFO files

The truth is out there - or is it? Previously unseen files detailing reports of unidentified flying objects have been released by the Ministry of Defence and prove that there is actually no such thing as a UFO.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 14th May 2008

Monday, 12 May 2008

He's our own Indiana Jones

YOU could almost say Indiana Jones owes it all to Bournemouth University Professor Tim Darvill.

Because at the start of the first film, Indy lectures on a British site that Prof Darvill actually excavated in real life.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Monday 12th May 2008

TV historian wanting to collect your blood

Historian Julian Richards will be in the county town tomorrow for a study of the genetic clues to deadly diseases.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 12th March 2008

Friday, 9 May 2008

Town bones up on fossils

Charmouth went fossil fantastic over the bank holiday weekend for their first Fossil Festival.

The weekend in celebration of rocks and fossils saw more than 2,400 visitors, making around 300 fossil moulds and polishing 200 ammonite slices.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Friday 9th May 2008

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Old bottles not old bones for fossil hunters in Lyme Regis

Fossil hunters who flocked to Lyme Regis in Dorset after the biggest landslip for 100 years were disappointed to discover the beach littered with rubbish from a dump. Instead of giant ammonites and the bones of prehistoric marine reptiles, for which the town has been famous since Victorian times, the debris contained tens of thousands of glass bottles, tyres, car batteries and radiators.

READ MORE - Source:

New fears for Lyme landslip

There is danger of another landslide at Lyme Regis after a historic landfill site became exposed, warned the authorities.

The Spittle site, between Lyme Regis and Charmouth, shifted on Tuesday evening resulting in the worst landslide for decades.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 8th May 2008

Stay away from landslip

The public is being warned to stay away from the site of a major landslip in Lyme Regis.

The Spittles site between Lyme Regis and Charmouth on Dorset's Jurassic Coast shifted on Tuesday evening and there is danger of further slips in the coming days.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 8th May 2008

Coastguard warnings after huge landslide

Fossil hunters were today warned to keep away from a stretch of coast after the biggest landslide in the area for decades.

The slip destroyed more than 400 metres of world heritage coastline at The Spittles, between Lyme Regis and Charmouth, an area notorious for earth moves.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 8th May 2008

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Major landslip closes beach at Lyme Regis

A large landslip has blocked more than 400 metres of coastline near Lyme Regis.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the landslide obstructed a stretch of beach between Lyme Regis and neighbouring Charmouth.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News 7th May 2008

Fossil hunters warned off as landslide destroys Jurassic coastline

Fossil hunters were warned to keep away today after a landslide described as the "biggest in 100 years" destroyed 400 metres of world heritage coastline.

Experts were assessing the damage along the Jurassic coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth in Dorset after the rock fall yesterday evening. The Lyme Regis harbour master's wife and several nearby residents alerted the coastguard to the slide at around 8pm.

READ MORE - Source: The Guardian 7th May 2008

Landslip is 'worst in 100 years'

A landslip described as "the worst for 100 years" has destroyed more than 400 metres (1,312 ft) of Dorset's World Heritage Jurassic Coast.

READ MORE - Source: BBC News 7th May 2008

Plaque marks historic site

Royal Manor Arts College head boy and girl Nathan Duncan and Sally Way unveiled a plaque to mark the Romano-British site at Weston Road, Portland.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 7th May 2007

Sculptures to go on show at London gallery

A bronze statue of Thomas Hardy by an Upwey sculptor will be exhibited at a London gallery.

The 12-inch bronze relief sculptures will go on display at the Society of Portrait Sculptors exhibition in Cork Street, London, from May 12 to 17.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Wednesday 7th May 2008

‘Landslide is not likely to happen here’

The Purbeck coast is unlikely to suffer a landslip as dramatic as that in Lyme Regis according to expert Mike Goater.

Tuesday's landslide destroyed 400m of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 7th May 2008

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Flying the flag - more designs for the Dorset Flag

This is the latest batch of entries to arrive in our hunt to find a flag for Dorset.

The Dorset Echo has invited readers to send us their ideas for a county flag and the submissions have come flying in.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Tuesday 6th May 2008

Find out if you’ve got Viking blood

Dorset families are being urged to take part in a major study into Britain's genetic history.

The county is believed to be one of the most important sites in the UK for the research, which aims to determine the genetic impact of peoples such as the Angles, Saxons and Vikings on present day UK.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Tuesday 6th May 2008

Stately Forde wins award

Forde Abbey, the beautiful stately home on the Dorset-Somerset border, has won a major award.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Tuesday 6th May 2008

Knob event proves so successful

The Dorset Knob Throwing Festival is set to become a regular event after its success at the weekend.

The event, named in honour of the Dorset Knob - a spherical biscuit produced by Moores the bakers - was held at Cattistock with the Frome Valley Food Festival.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 6th May 2008

N.B. More pictures of the event can be found by visiting http://www.cattistock.info

Green is colour for town May Fair

Visitors to the Millennium Green May Fair in Bridport yesterday didn't let an overcast sky and the threat of rain dampen their spirits.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 6th May 2008

Monday, 5 May 2008

Researchers aim to create genetic map of UK

A team of Oxford professors is hoping Dorset residents can help provide vital clues about ancient migration patterns and contribute to major breakthroughs in modern medicine.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 5th May 2008

Wicker man burned at pagan festival

Dorset pagans gathered for a Beltane Festival of Rebirth oganised by the Weymouth-based Dolmen Grove on a site just outside the town over the weekend.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo 5th May 2008

Costume and drama at Lulworth Castle

Civil war battles were recreated at Lulworth Castle over the bank holiday weekend.

Hundreds of members of the English Civil War Society donned costumes and period props to recreate life in the 17th century.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo 5th May 2008

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Upwey Well Dressing

Today we went down to see the Well Dressing at Upwey Wishing Well, near Weymouth.

This years theme appeared to be 'Ancient Landscapes' incorporating Stonehenge and Maiden Castle.

Well dressing was introduced to Upwey in 1986. Some Derbyshire Ladies who moved to the area started the tradition of dressing the well, as per Derbyshire custom. Thus The wishing well is now dressed each year at around May Day. The Upwey Well Dressing is very much a community effort, which raises good money for local charities. This year 2008, they are raising funds to improve wheelchair access for the disabled to the Old School Village Hall.

The origins of the tradition are alternatively said to lie in pagan tradition or in giving thanks for the purity of the water drawn from certain wells during the period of the Black Death. It is often said to have originated in Tissington, Derbyshire, though other claims can be made for Eyam and Stoney Middleton. Whatever its origins it was historically a custom exclusive in England to the Peak District of Derbyshire.

The information accompanying the Upwey Well Dressing reads:
"Well Dressing

Springs and wells all over the world have been revered since ancient times. In Britain the most famous examples of this tradition are Well Dressings in the Peak District villages of Derbyshire, where, during the time of the plague, communities with fresh water supply were able to protect themselves by sealing their village off from sealing their village from the outside world. Weymouth is were the Black Death entered the country in 1347. Since then wells and springs were dressed annually in thankfulness and celebration.

Here at Upwey Wishing Well is the main source of the River Wey - the largest natural spring in the south - and local people with Derbyshire connections introduced Well Dressing to the local community in 1986. Ever since the Wishing Well has been dressed annually at the May Day weekend.

Planning and designing takes several months but work starts in earnest during the week leading up to the May Day Bank Holiday.

First, a wooden framework is made and soaked for a week or so in the water gardens. Then, in the week before installation, a layer of clay is laid out on the framework of boards and the design marked out. Over the following three days the picture is built up with leaves, seeds, and other natural materials. Finally, on the day before installation, thousands of flower petals are added to give brilliant colour. Local gardeners are very generous and no wild flowers are used. The work is very intensive and painstaking and has to be completed within this short period. Although it is at its best in the early days, the Well Dressing last for three to four weeks."
Brief History of the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well at Upwey is a natural spring and source of the River Wey. The tradition as a wishing well is said to have begun as a visitor attraction in the early 20th century.

Visitors would often participate in the ritual by taking a few sips of well water from a glass. And throwing the rest of the water backwards over their left shoulder while wishing.

The Wishing Well waters are thought to also have healing properties especially in the healing of sore eyes. (see article 'Bincombe's Link to Ancient Spring 10th March 2004')

George III often visited the village of Upwey during his stay at Weymouth. He was particularly attracted by the spring that it is said that this caused a seat to be set nearby for his use. It is also said that the gold cup that the king drank the spring water from later became the Ascot Gold Cup.

Town’s history has been embroidered

An embroidered record of Dorchester's history has found a permanent home in the foyer of the town's Corn Exchange.

A special ceremony was held to mark the relocation of the Dorchester Tapestry, a collection of seven panels recording the town's history created by local stitchers.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo, 3rd May 2008

Horn is set to be replaced

Residents are delighted at refurbishment work on Weymouth's Kings Statue, but they is confusion over why the unicorn's horn is missing.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo, 3rd May 2008

Friday, 2 May 2008

Tiny bee spotted for first time in 50 years

A tiny bee which has been discovered in Britain for the first time in more 50 years is at the centre of a puzzle.

Has Dufourea minuta - it doesn't have a common name - been able to return to southern England as a result of milder weather helping it to expand its mainland Europe range?

READ MORE - Source: Telegraph 2nd May 2008

Westham 125 years celebrations

On the 26th April 2008, we visited the Conifers Primary School where they commemorated 125 years since town planners came up with the district name 'Westham'. (see previous blog entry 'Westham united' , Tuesday, 15 April 2008)

The event was organised by the Westham COPS (Community Orientated Problem Solving), Weymouth and Portland Borough Council with aid of National Lottery funding. The celebrations proved a success as was the weather, which brought a well attended crowd of people to the event.

The proceedings were opened by the arrival of Alderman Andy Hutchings and the newly-crowned Westham Princess Jessica Oswald and Mini Miss Ariana Matthews. The honourable David Harris, Mayor of the Borough of Weymouth and Portland was also there to congratulate organisers

In the car park there was a display of classic cars, motorbikes belonging to the New Forest Harley-Davidson club as well as an engine and representatives of Dorset Fire Service. For the little ones there was a ride on a miniature steam locomotive.

The School playing field had a selection of handycraft, bric-a-brac and cake stalls plus face painting and two very fine birds of prey on display: a Barn Owl and Harris Hawk belonging to handler Chris Randal. In the main arena there firstly was a performance by the Bluebelle Twirlers and then demonstrations of Taekwondo as well as Police Dog handlers

Inside the school, an interesting exhibition of 'The History of Westham' was on display. This included a number of photographs, family trees, documentation thereof, maps and artefacts donated by local people as well as by people outside of the county. Dark Dorset even contributed by providing photographs and information regarding the Science Fiction author Eric Frank Russell, who lived in Westham as a child (see previous blog entry 'In memory of British Science Fiction writer, Eric Frank Russell who died this day in 1978',Thursday, 28 February 2008).

We must congratulate Debby Rose and Samantha Spracklen for their stirling work in getting this exhibition together.

Such was the popularity and success of the history exhibition at the Westham 125 event, a book about Westham's history is now in preparation. If you have anything relating to the history that could be included or if you have memories of bygone times in Westham that you'd be happy to share, then they can make contact through the Westham website at http://www.westham.weymouth-dorset.co.uk.

Well done, Westham 125!!

(Below) Highlights of the afternoon 'Westham 125 celebration'

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