Much of the later history of our area is well known and documented in books such as “STUR- The History of Sturminster Newton”. Earlier archaeological investigation ranges from the Neolithic period, c 3000 BC, until the late medieval, c 1500 AD. Although much of the latter is certain and evidence based, some of it is still open to interpretation.

Prehistoric period: 4,000 BC – 43 AD

The wider area has some outstanding prehistoric monuments, some of the international importance, some right on our doorstep.


At Hambledon Hill, earliest occupation was in the Neolithic when a pair of causewayed enclosures were dug at the top of the hill, one smaller than the other. They were linked by a bank and ditch running northwest–southeast.

SNMMS-Archaeology 1

Sturminster Castle / Fort

Roman Period: 43 AD – 425 AD

SNMMS-Archaeology 2

There is evidence of Roman occupation all round Sturminster Newton with major villa sites at Hinton St Mary, Fifehead Neville, Iwerne Minster and Shillingstone and a Roman camp at Hambledon Hill.

Photo: Christian iconography in the 4th century mosaic at Hinton St Mary. The mosaic is owned by the British Museum.



Anglo-Saxon period: 425 AD – 1066 AD

SNMMS-Archaeology 3

The dark ages. There is little documentary evidence for the events in this period but recent archaeology supports evidence for a Saxon minster centred around St Mary’s Church in Sturminster Newton.

Photo: Clues to a very early period are still evident in place and property names such as this and the adjacent Ham(me) Gate.


Medieval period: 1066 AD – 1600 AD

SNMMS-Archaeology 4The Norman Conquest bought not only Domesday but also saw the expansion of the Monasteries, The Monastic influence of Glastonbury and Shaftesbury Abbeys was a major driver behind a reorganisation of the landscape in this area.

Photo: Remains of the mid-14th century manor built in Newton by the abbots of Glastonbury.


Excavations and surveys

SNMMS-Archaeology 5The Mill and Museum Society hosted and participated in a community archaeological project in 2010 in and around an area thought to represent the scope of a Saxon minster in the town. Many local people got involved and the project made a substantial contribution to the archaeology of the area.

Photo: A community archaeology project in 2010-11 excavated one metre square test pits in and around the Minster complex.

Major Chronological Periods

Dating from the Stone Age to late Medieval and listing associated artefacts…