Dorset has a rich variety of historic towns, each with its own special character and story. The Dorset Historic Towns Survey analysed this historic character, so important to the individuality, sense of place and economic well-being of the county's towns.

A diverse range of features and factors combine to give towns their local distinctiveness. It is all too easy for significant elements to be damaged or lost through modern development if we don't understand the historic urban environment. A technique called characterisation is used to identify, analyse and understand the historic elements which make each town special. 

A report highlights aspects of each town's historical development and how this has shaped the modern town. It also identifies gaps in our knowledge and areas which would repay further research.

Historic town reports

To date, the project has studied 21 towns or former towns.