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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Monday, 31 December 2012

Dorset's Weird and Wonderful Year of 2012

From Strange Rain to Whale Vomit, strange archaeological finds to unsual wildlife. This 2012 has been a busy year for weird and wonderful news in Dorset.

Dark Dorset looks back with a selection of twelve stories taken from our blog scrapbook and facebook page.


JANUARY - Friday, 27th January 2012
  • News Clipping: Bournemouth resident mystified by 'blue sphere shower'


A man in Dorset has been left mystified after tiny blue spheres fell from the sky into his garden. Steve Hornsby from Bournemouth said the 3cm diameter balls came raining down late on Thursday afternoon during a hail storm. He found about a dozen of the balls in his garden. He said: "[They're] difficult to pick up, I had to get a spoon and flick them into a jam jar." The Met Office said the jelly-like substance was "not meteorological"

READ MORE - Source: BBC News,
FEBRUARYFriday, 21st February 2012

  • News Clipping: What happens if you find human remains in your garden?

When a set of bones was discovered at a property in Dorset this month, experts confirmed they were "bones of antiquity". But what happens when you find human remains in your back gardenImagine you have got the builders in and they are digging up your garden.  Then suddenly work stops, and the contractors tell you they have uncovered a set of bones.  This is what happened to a woman from Preston, near Weymouth, who was having an extension built.

READ MORE - Source: BBC News, 21st February 2012

MARCH - Friday, 16th March 2012
  • News Clipping: Venomous spiders found nesting in Chickerell mum's shed

A single mother has discovered an infestation of a type of venomous, biting spider on the roof of her shed. And the creatures, false widow spiders, have been found in her house. Lindsay Hallam, of Marshallsay Road, Chickerell, has tried everything to rid her home of the arachnids, which have been known to bite.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo, Friday 16th March 2012
APRIL - Monday, 2nd April 2012
  •  Blog: The Skimmington Ride


The large plaster frieze in the Great Hall at Montacute House is one of the room’s most distinctive features, and one that is particularly puzzling for modern visitors. In such a grand house one might expect the frieze to depict a morally uplifting tale from the Bible or classical mythology... but instead it shows a rustic scene from the time the frieze was produced, in the early seventeenth century. 

READ MORE - Source: Montacute House, Monday, 2 April 2012

MAY -
  • News Clippings: Giant crab at Weymouth Sea Life Park


Monster Crabs
This gigantic crab has escaped the cook pot and will be showcased at Weymouth Sea Life Park. The Tasmanian King Crab is a delicacy in its native Australia and was destined for the dinner table until it was snapped up by a British aquarium worker. He agreed to buy three of the enormous crustaceans for £3,000 and had them flown to the UK.

Dorset Echo




 JUNE - Thursday, 14th June 2012
  • News Clipping: Dorset donkey rustler among Victorian crimes put online

Details of a man who was given hard labour for stealing a donkey in Dorset are among 67,000 Victorian criminal records to be put online. George Pill, 18, committed his misdemeanour in 1894 and was given a six-week sentence as punishment. Details of his crime have come from the Dorset History Centre, which is digitising its archive.
READ MORE - Source: BBC News, Thursday, 14th June 2012

JULY - Monday, 9th July 2012
  • News Clippings: Meet Monmouth's Member: Rock slide leaves rather embarrassing phallic symbol on Dorset beach which could rival county's famous hillside image


There must surely be something in the water in Dorset. The county is already notorious for its hillside figure of a naked and sexually aroused man, known as The Cerne Abbas Giant. But locals have recently been getting flustered by yet another X-rated image, which many believe could rival the famous hillside image.
 READ MORE - Source: The Daily Mail, Monday, 9th July 2012
AUGUST - Saturday, 25th August 2012

  • Schoolboy's rich after finding Moby's sick

    A schoolboy has stumbled across a rare piece of whale vomit which could be worth a staggering £40,000. Officially called ambergris, the substance is highly sought after and is used to prolong the scent of perfume. Charlie Naysmith made the discovery at Hengistbury Head, much to the amazement of his parents. 

    READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo, Saturday 25th August 2012

SEPTEMBER - Saturday, 22nd September 2012
  • News Clipping: Dorset's big cat riddle 

Sightings of mysterious big cats in Dorset have sparked intense debate in recent years. Many are convinced that here are panthers roaming the countryside while others maintain that with no conclusive proof of their existence that it is highly unlikely they exist in the wild. There have, however, been numerous reported sightings in recent years. According to figures obtained by the Echo, a total of 53 people have made emergency calls to report their wild cat encounters since 2006.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo


OCTOBER - Saturday, 23rd October 2012
  • News Clipping: 18th century barn in Lytchett reveals secrets after huge mirror is taken down

An 18th century barn has been revealing some of its secrets after a huge mirror was taken down.  Gill and John Haynes were moving their Chic Interiors from another unit at the Courtyard Centre, Lytchett Minster into the barn, and decided on some refurbishment.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo, Saturday 23rd October 2012

NOVEMBER - Tuesday 20th November 2012
  • News Clipping: Rare albino badger causes a stir in Dorset market town of Beaminster
But the so-called polar bear of Dorset defied all attempts to track it down despite regular sightings of it rootling around in the countryside. In the end the puzzle was solved by a photographer working on a tip-off. Colin Varndell set up camp in a friend’s garden for four nights… and was rewarded when a rare albino badger finally emerged. At a push the stripeless creature could be said to resemble a small bear and, being nocturnal in habit, is rarely seen in public.

READ MORE - Source: The Metro, Tuesday 20th November 2012
DECEMBER - Thursday, 1st December 2011
  • NEW BOOK: Blandford Forum Ghosts by Sue Burleigh and Catherine Greenway

    Blandford Forum Ghosts
    By Sue Burleigh &
    Catherine Greenway
    If you looking for Ghost Stories this Christmas. A collection of tales and encounters with the paranormal in the North Dorset town of Blandford and surrounding villages has recently been published by the Blandford Town Museum and Blandford and District Civic Society.

    Written and collected by Sue Burleigh and Catherine Greenway, this booklet provides some intriguing and entertaining stories provided by local people. With illustrations by Sue herself, and photographs of places featured in the stories

    This booklet is available for £2.50  from the Blandford Town Museum and from the Blandford Forum Tourist Information Centre, Riverside House, West Street, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7AW.

    Source:  Blackmore Vale Magazine - 21st December 2012

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Events: New Year's Day Nurdling Tourney 2013

The Nurdlers
The Nurdlers will be out in force on New Year’s Day getting up to their extraordinary antics.

They’re gathering at the Old Ship Inn on Ridgeway, dustbin lids to the fore, dressed for the fray in a variety of somewhat strange garments ready to hurl the nurdle from 10:30am to 13:30pm

It’s noisy, energetic, unexpected and without rules one can easily decipher and by the time they’ve pounded to the top of the Ridgeway and back they’re ready for their good ale.

Potential Nurdlers and Droves seeking knowledge and wishing to participate should contact Albert The Tall at bill@beakerfolk.co.uk

Witnesses welcome, at their own risk.

For more information about this obscure sporting event visit Upwey Nurdler's Website

Saturday, 22 December 2012

NEW BOOK: Blandford Forum Ghosts by Sue Burleigh and Catherine Greenway

Blandford Forum Ghosts
By Sue Burleigh &
Catherine Greenway
If you looking for Ghost Stories this Christmas. A collection of tales and encounters with the paranormal in the North Dorset town of Blandford and surrounding villages has recently been published by the Blandford Town Museum and Blandford and District Civic Society.

Written and collected by Sue Burleigh and Catherine Greenway, this booklet provides some intriguing and entertaining stories provided by local people. With illustrations by Sue herself, and photographs of places featured in the stories

This booklet is available for £2.50  from the Blandford Town Museum and from the Blandford Forum Tourist Information Centre, Riverside House, West Street, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7AW.


Source:  Blackmore Vale Magazine - 21st December 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Here be Dragons!!!

Morris Dancing
One of the oldest mythical creatures that have appeared in every culture around the world occurring in oral and written folk traditions are dragons.(see previous blog post The Year of the Dragon: Dragons and Wyverns of Dorset)

Now you can own a unique, personal, hand painted dragon one of a kind gift from the The Little Green Dragon Company.

Each painting is the Little Green Dragon character in a costume of your choosing with as much detail as you need that’s unique to you, your other half, friend, work mate, parent who ever. The Little Green Dragon fits anything from squash, basketball, tennis, snooker, kite surfer to solicitor, doctor, pilot, engineer, fisherman, trainspotter in fact he fits anything and what’s more it’s unique to you.

Each painting is about 20cm x 20cm hand painted in Gouache water colour and is available framed or unframed. Signed by local artist these also make great family heirlooms and are full of the persons character. You don’t have to be a dragon collector to enjoy The Little Green Dragon, we have been commissioned by rock stars, artists, actors through to surgeons, dustmen, cleaners in fact every and all backgrounds, sports, hobbies or pastimes there’s a Little Green Dragon to suit you exactly.

For the real not on the high street gift this season with a difference look no further than The Little Green Dragon!

For more information visit www.the-little-green-dragon.com   or find us on facebook www.facebook.com/littlegreendragon

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

News Clipping: Mummer’s the word

The Hardy Players perform a mumming play
This week Dorset author Peter Cooper, who wrote the play She Opened The Door, about the women in the life of Thomas Hardy, looks at the festive tradition of Mumming plays. Mumming is a curious custom in which heavily disguised folk, traditionally men, travel from big house to pub to earn a little extra Christmas money.

Read More: Source Dorset Echo

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Very English Winter on BBC IPlayer

Rachel and Becky Unthank
If you missed it on BBC 4 this evening, you still have a chance to see the young Northumbrian folk-singing siblings Rachel and Becky Unthank  continue their journey around England's hidden customs and dance traditions and into the dark heart of its winter pastimes.

The follow-up to Still Folk Dancing After All These Years, which explored English folk dances from spring to harvest, this film explores English folk customs around the country though the other six months of the year.

200 years of political intrigue and clashes with police authorities in Lewes on Guy Fawkes Night have created an awe-inspiring procession of burning popes and other effigies of the enemies of the bonfire, not to mention a heavy police presence to this day. Throwing the Yorkshire carols of Sheffield out of the church repertoire has only served to enhance the heart-stopping show of unrestrained joy found in the powerful singing at the Royal Hotel pub in Dungworth.

The longsword dancers of the North East and molly dancers of East Anglia, who have gone collecting funds each year, are a reminder that no higher power puts food on the plate. Just as these customs rely on the communities themselves to mark each point with song, remembrance and a gathering together, the very need to survive lies in the hands of your neighbour.

The Unthanks discover these stories through singing, dancing, meeting people who have grown up with these traditions and trying not to get set on fire.

Friday, 14 December 2012

News Clipping: Lyme Regis mummers seek damsel in distress

The Lyme Regis Mummers are in distress and are urgently seeking a damsel. The second in the revived tradition of Lyme Mummers’ plays is set to promenade through the town in January. In January this year 400 people packed the streets to cheer at the horseback heroics of Sir George, swoon at the beauty of the fair Sabra, and quake in their boots at the villainy of the Woodwose and the Turkish Knight.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo:

Below: Source: Lyme Regis TV - Wassail and 'Mummers the Word 14th January 2012 



Wednesday, 5 December 2012

New Book: Dorset History in 101 Objects by Terry Hearing

Dorset History in 101 Objects
by Terry Hearing
Click Here
This Book is an account of selected objects which illustrate the threads of the History of Dorset. Dorset is full of “objects”, and each one is a piece of History. The definition of the word ‘object’ has been taken very widely, from the tiny Mesolithic microliths to the strip fields of Portland.

Some of the objects are bizarre, such as the cannonball in the wall of a ladies’ lavatory in Weymouth; some are very beautiful, like the Tabernacle in Milton Abbey; some are huge, such as the prehistoric hillforts; some are mundane utilities, like roadside signposts; some are merely names like the list of the parish priests who died serving their flocks when the Black Death swept in. All have their stories, and this book looks at just one hundred and one, out of countless millions.

Each short chapter gives the flavour of the object to show its importance in the continuing story of a county rich in the remains of the lives of our predecessors. All the objects can be seen in the museums, the towns and the countryside of Dorset.

Anyone reading this book can visit them all and witness at first hand these tangible testaments to the sweep of the millennia across the county.

In this profusely illustrated large-format volume, Terry Hearing opens the lid of the immense treasure chest that is Dorset, revealing some of its brightest – and occasionally most unexpected – jewels that are almost bewildering in their variety.

For more information vist Halsgrove Publishing at www.halsgrove.com

New Book: Dorset Tales of Mystery & Murder by Roger Evans

Tales of Mystery & Murder
by Roger Evans
Click Here
It is hard to believe that behind Dorset's idyllic exterior of rolling hills, quiet country lanes and pretty villages, there lies a history of murders and unexplained happenings.

Local author Roger Evans re-tells some of these gripping and ghostly stories, beginning with Martha Brown, who took an axe to her philandering and drunken husband John, Her public execution was witnessed by Thomas Hardy, the famous Dorset author who could never get the sight out of his head of her swinging back and forth in misty rain. Other stories include the famous Rattenbury murder at 5 Manor Road in the East Cliff area of Bournemouth, a catalogue of murders perpetrated by Neville Heath whose last victim was found along Branksome Chine, the hair-fetish murders of Danilo Restivo and the case of arsenic poisoning in a cup of Oxo in Over Compton.

Altogether there are 20 tales ranging from the Bronze Age warrior deressed in furs and riding bareback who haunts Cranborne Chase to the discovery of a mass grave of mutilated bodies near the Dorchester to Weymouth relief road in 2007.

For more information visit Countyside Books at www.countrysidebooks.co.uk






New Book: The Portland Chronicles - The Portland Giant by Carol Hunt by Carol Hunt

The Portland Giant
by Carol Hunt
Click Here
In the final book of the series, Isabel discovers the greatest secret of the ancient Isle of Portland.

‘You’re a witchy family. Your mum’s got red hair and your sister’s a pumpkin!’ remarks Noah, Isabel’s friend.

But the local elves think Isabel isn’t a proper witch, even when she encounters a ghostly highwayman and cavalier, a headless horseman, magical unicorn and the keeper of the old Vindelis Lighthouse, a boy lost in time.

Her interfering little sister Suzie is keen to find the Island Giant, but Isabel is worried. What will he think of today’s Portland and of Isabel herself, the reluctant island witch?

The Portland Giant  is on sale now through-out Portland and Weymouth. Copies are available at White Stones Cafe, Easton and Imagine Books in St Albans Street, Weymouth. 

For more information visit Roving Press at www.rovingpress.co.uk

Events: FREE Entry Week at the Dorset County Museum

Entry to Dorset County Museum to be completely free from Saturday 8 to Saturday 15 December 2012

As part of an Arts Council initiative, Dorset County Museum is going to be allowing free entry for one week only before Christmas.

Starting on Saturday 8th December and running up to and including Saturday 15th December, all entry to the Museum will be completely free (the usual adult charge is £6.50). Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum said,
“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to see what difference free entry can make – we hope local people in particular will take the opportunity to come in and have a look around the galleries, particularly if they haven’t visited us before – it’s their history, after all.”
The Museum is also open on Cracker Night – Thursday 6 December. The pattern will be familiar to anyone who has been in on recent Cracker Nights – some favourite Sci Fi characters will be wandering around the galleries, Father Christmas will be in his grotto and there will be delicious mulled wine and mince pies for sale. Entry is free and everyone is welcome.

The Museum is open from 10am to 4pm every day except Sundays and the current exhibition is a collection of fascinating mosaics by Swanage-based artist Robert Field.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/dorsetcountymuseum

Saturday, 1 December 2012

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