The Jurassic Coast stretches over a distance of 155 kilometres (96 mi), from Orcombe Point near Exmouth, in the west, to Old Harry Rocks, in the east. The coastal exposures along the coastline provide a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning approximately 185 million years of the Earths history. The localities along the Jurassic Coast include a large range of important fossil zones. The West Dorset village of Charmouth is at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coastline. One mile to the east of the Regency town of Lyme Regis, Charmouth has its own distinct identity and is renowned worldwide for its fossil beaches. They are situated on the beach at Charmouth. The Centre is the perfect place to visit before heading out on to the beach to find fossils, with interactive computers, fossil touch table, fossil beach, Jurassic Theatre and a video microscope to examine your fossil finds. There is also information and displays on the geology, and coastal wildlife of the area, including a marine rockpool aquarium. The Centre has stairs to the main entrance and wheel chair/ramp access at the rear. There are (accessible) public toilets in a separate building at the rear of the Centre. There is also a disabled toilet.
Location : Lower Sea Lane, Charmouth, Dorset DT6 6LL
Transport: Axminster (National Rail) then 31 bus. Bus Routes : 31 and X53 (Exeter, Lyme Regis) stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily 10:30 - 16:30.
Tickets : Free
Tel: 01297 560772
The Dinosaur Museum is the only museum in mainland Britain dedicated purely to dinosaurs. The museum combines life-sized reconstructions of dinosaurs with fossils and dinosaur skeletons to create an exciting hands-on experience. Hands-on displays help tell the story of the giant prehistoric animals and their enthralling world millions of years ago. Excellent fun for all ages, there are free explorers funsheets for all children to help them make the most of their visit. Life-size reconstructions - including the dinosaur T Rex, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor and Triceratops - beg to be touched - and it is encouraged. There is one step access to the Dinosaur Museum which has displays and exhibits situated over two floors. There is a temporary ramp available at the front door to assist with entrance. The ground floor is fully accessible. Unfortunately the upper floor is inaccessible to wheelchair users because of the nature of this period building. It can only be accessed by a staircase of 16 steps. There are not disabled toilets in the museum. The nearest disabled toilets are by the entrance to the Waitrose car park in Charles Street, some 200 metres from the museum. One companion is admitted free of charge per wheelchair user, visually impaired visitor or other person whose disability necessitates a carer. Assistance dogs are welcome throughout the Dinosaur Museum at all times. Other dogs are welcome in the museum at their discretion.
Location : Icen Way, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1EW
Transport: Dorchester South or Dorchester West (National Rail) 15 minutes. Bus Routes : 6, 61, 186, 187, 211, 212, 213, 307, 311, 340, X11, X12 and X51 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 - 17:00.
Tickets : Adults £6.99; Children £5.99
Tel: 01305 269880
Dinosaurland Fossil Museum is housed in a magnificent grade 1 listed building which was once the Congregational Church. The pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning was baptised here on 27th June 1799 and continued to worship here until about 1830. She discovered the first Ichthyosaur on the beaches here in 1811. It contains a collection of local marine fossils from the Jurassic period. The museum organizes guided fossil hunting walks. There is a museum shop that sells fossils and minerals. The fossil collection is housed on the ground floor. As well as local Jurassic fossils, there are dinosaurs from China. There are also modern shells and skeletons on display. The museum has a small collection of dinosaur fossils on show (such as a large dinosaur coprolite, a Megalosaurus skeleton and a Chinese dinosaur, of unknown genus). The museum is wheelchair accessible.
Location : Coombe Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset, DT7 3PY
Transport: Axminster (National Rail) then 31 bus. Bus Routes : 71, 899, X51 and X53 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 - 17:00.
Tickets : Adults £5.00; Children £4.00
Tel: 01297 443541
The Dorset County Museum was founded in 1846. The museum covers the county of Dorset's history and environment. The current building was built in 1881 on the former site of the George Inn. The building was designed specifically to house the museum's collection and is in the Gothic style. The museum includes information and over 2 million artifacts associated with archaeology (e.g., Maiden Castle), geology (e.g., the Jurassic Coast), history, local writers (e.g. Thomas Hardy) and natural science. There are video displays, activity carts for children, and an audio guide. The collections include fossilised dinosaur footprints, Roman mosaics and original Thomas Hardy manuscripts. Thomas Hardy is Dorset’s most famous writer. Born in a cottage near Dorchester, he received only a modest education but by the time of his death in 1928 had become the most famous writer in England. The Victorian Gallery is the main gallery of the museum. It was built in 1883 with arches of fine cast ironwork inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851 and International Exhibition of 1862, and a beautiful rose window. The Victorian Gallery houses an eclectic selection of objects representing the domestic, working and public lives and culture of the people of Dorset.
Designed as a focal point for all visitors to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast Gallery charts the full 95 miles of coastline from Exmouth in Devon to Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. Visitors to the Gallery can learn how the coast was formed and why it is so important. This fascinating geological story is delivered through touch, sound, text, and interactive displays, and at levels to suit all ages and all abilities. he Ancient Dorset Gallery tells the fascinating story of the past of the ancient peoples living on the South Dorset Ridgeway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, from the Lower Palaeolithic Age 3 million years ago to 1066 AD. The earliest objects on display, flint hand axes found at Corfe Mullen, date from 474,000BC to 427,000BC. From here the gallery takes visitors on a chronological journey through the lives of the Britons, Romans, Saxons and Vikings who lived in ancient Dorset. Carers admitted free of charge. There is one unisex accessible (Disabled) toilet with baby changing facilities on the ground floor. Assistance dogs are welcome. There is single step (0.2m high) to negotiate at the Main Entrance. A ramp is available and can be called by pressing the bell located on the left hand side of the Main Entrance doors. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible. A hearing loop is available.
Location : High W St, Dorchester DT1 1XA
Transport: Dorchester South or Dorchester West (National Rail) 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 7, 31, 101, 183, 212, 216, 307, 323, 347 and 387 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Monday to Saturday 10:00 - 17:00.
Tickets : Adults £6.35; Concessions £5.90 Children £3.50
Tel: 01305 269880
Lyme Regis Museum stands where Dorset meets Devon on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Built on the site of the fossilist Mary Anning's home, the museum is an architectural gem packed with fascination. Discover Lyme’s history, its geology, its fossils, its artists and writers , from J M Whistler to Jane Austen to John Fowles. Mary Anning (1799–1847). Mary Anning was a self-educated, working class woman from Lyme Regis and the greatest fossil hunter ever known. Mary Anning's discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time. They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth. Her opinions were sought and she was acknowledged as an expert in many areas, including the rather unglamorous coprolites (fossil faeces). She played a key role in informing the work of her learned, male contemporaries, notably William Buckland, Henry de la Beche and William Conybeare. For thousands of years the Lyme cliffs have crumbled and fallen, revealing great numbers of fossils which have been washed out of the crumbling rock by the sea. In the days before palaeontology, people picked up these oddly shaped ‘stones’, seeing them as curiosities of nature, but until the early 19th century there was no scientific interest or understanding.
Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) was one of Lyme Regis's most famous and best-loved visitors. Her great novel, Persuasion, published in 1818, is in part set in Lyme, making the Dorset town a centre of literary pilgrimage ever since. By the beginning of the 19th century, Lyme Regis had become a fashionable resort for summer visitors, and of the thousands who came to enjoy the pleasures of the town none is recalled with more pride and affection than Jane Austen. Jane came to Lyme with her family in the summer of 1804, and remained here with her parents when her sister Cassandra and brother Henry moved on to Weymouth in September. Jane wrote letters to Cassandra describing what she had seen and done in the town: walking on the Cobb, dancing in the Assembly Rooms, bathing (from a bathing machine) and rather overdoing it, and disputing with her landlord the price of a broken jug. Lyme Regis Museum has a number of objects on display relating to Jane Austen and her times. The museum is in a quirky Grade II listed building. The ground floor and shop are accessible to people with limited mobility and wheelchair users but there is currently no lift. There is a photographic display on the ground floor showing the upper galleries. There are large print text folders in all the galleries. Assistance dogs are welcome
Location : Bridge Street, Lyme Regis DT7 3QA
Transport: Axminster (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : X51 and X53 Jurassic Coast Coaches stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 - 17:00; Sunday opens at 11:00.
Tickets : Adults £3.95; Seniors £3.45 Children Free
Tel: 01297 443370
The museum is housed in two 17th-century thatched cottages built of stone. With both retaining thatched roofs, the cottages act as a reminder of the type of cottage that once appeared all across the island. The museum is built around four distinct themes that represent Portland most famous attributes, highlighting the history of Portland Stone, the Jurassic Coast, shipwrecks around Portland, and famous people linked with Portland. It also shows examples of the Island's rich archaeology from the Stone Ages onwards. The intention of the Portland Museum is to educate the public by providing and maintaining artefacts and specimens relating to the natural sciences, natural history, archaeology, literature, music, the fine-decorative arts, antiques and local history relating to Portland. The museum was founded and first curated by doctor and pioneer of birth control Marie Stopes. She purchased two derelict cottages at the bottom of Wakeham, in the effort to create a museum for Portland. Stopes gave the museum as a gift to islanders in 1929. One of the museum's cottages, Avice's Cottage, was the inspiration behind the 1897 novel The Well-Beloved, written by Thomas Hardy, as the home of three generations of "Avices" - the novel's heroines. Hardy was a friend of Stopes.
The Marie Stopes Cottage features a small exhibition about Stopes, and a display of items connected to Thomas Hardy. This area also features a "Victorian Corner" which displays the wedding dress of a local Portland girl, and objects that would have been found in a Victorian parlour. In the upstairs of the cottage, the Maritime Room has a range of artifacts. The Navy on Portland is also highlighted. The Stone Room highlights Portland Stone, from the quarrying and production to its use on buildings (including war graves) all over the world. The room also features the 'Men of Stone', based on those who worked in the quarries and masonry yards on Portland. The Portland Gallery contains a collection of archaeological finds from excavations, an exhibition about Portland prisons and a cabinet displaying local glass and china items. The Garden has a collection of local fossils, ammonites, fossilised trees and local masonry and artifacts, including the casing of the famous World War II bomb found on Portland in 1995. As the museum includes two 17th century cottages, full access for the less able may be a challenge. A wheelchair ramp is available. Guide dogs are welcome. There is a public toilet for use by museum visitors.
Location : 217 Wakeham, Easton, Portland, Dorset DT5 1HS
Transport: Weymouth (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 1, 14, and 701K stop nearby.
Opening Times : Sunday to Thursady 10:30 - 16:00
Tickets : Adults £3.50; Seniors £3.00 Children £1.00
Tel: 01305 821804