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Dorchester (Durnovaria) was founded in the first decades of the Flavian period. The sites of the amphitheatre and bath house are known but the position of other public buildings is uncertain. Fortifications in earth built in the late 2nd century were replaced in stone in circa 300 AD. Cemeteries have been investigated at Poundbury and Fordington and a range of town houses and industrial areas identified. A well preserved aqueduct provided water for the town. There is evidence of sporadic occupation into the 5th century.

It was probably also the site of a Roman Fort. Although the name is not recorded with a tribal suffix, Durnovaria, which by the mid 2nd centry covered 70-80 acres, must be pesumed from its size and position to have been the tribal capital of the Durotriges, a 3rd-4th century division of the canton has been postulated based on Durnovaria and Lindinis. The existence here of a fort of the early conquest period, guarding a crossing of the Frome, has been suggested, based upon the situation at a nodal point in the Roman road system, and on the discovery of Claudian coins, pottery and military equipment. Frere suggests that the headquarters of the II Legion may have been set up at Dorchester or been divided between it and Exeter. Both towns were linked with harbours thought to have been used in the south-west advance under Vespasian. No structural remains of early date or military type have been idenctified, but the most likely site for a fort would have been in the south-west corner of the town.

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