The rich and varied countryside of Dorset has inspired many generations of writers and poets, with Thomas Hardy and William Barnes perhaps the most celebrated of these.

With this in mind, some of our most recent projects have worked with storyteller Martin Maudsley and found that a focus on the seasons has unearthed an eclectic mix of personal stories, modern myths and retold tales inspired by the landscape.

Seasons of Stories Book

Seasons of Stories

The beautifully written and illustrated Seasons of Stories ‘Autumn’ book, created by Martin and poet Sarah Acton with our Stepping into Nature project, has stimulated rich conversations and connections –fleeting stories – about nature.

Martin retells the story of Lazy Lawrence is a seasonal reminder not to scrump the apple orchards this autumn!

Swyre Head (c) Zoe Parry

Your Season of Stories

This new project from Stepping into Nature offers the chance to take part in creative workshops and activities exploring the seasons.

Your Season of Stories will gather seasonal memories, traditions and thoughts from people living in Dorset to co-produce a creative resource to help spark connection to nature.

Seasonal Myths and Legends

Storyteller Martin Maudsley has also worked with school children to unearth and retell some of the myths and legends of Dorset’s ancient landscapes. The Singing Barrow is a good story to share at this time of year, a tuneful tale set on Bincombe Bumps near Weymouth, featuring the struggle between the White Hearted Warrior and the wicked Faerie Queen.

Talking Map

Martin has also uncovered all manner of anecdotes and stories relating both to the past and present through the Talking Tent project.

Amongst his Talking Tent conversations, he has unearthed stories about the ‘cathedral of guillemots’ along the Jurassic Coast; the otters and adders of Purbeck and the endless song of the skylarks.

Walking Stories

Archaeologist Steve Wallis has also been working alongside the Dorset AONB team, creating a set of short walks to help ‘read’ the historic stories of six Dorset towns.

Join a Dorset History walk with Steve this autumn and piece together enticing stories of what life was like for those living in the past … or download the leaflets and do your own walk.

Maiden Castle (c) Tony Gill

Stories of Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle, near Dorchester, holds centuries of stories within its ramparts and is great to explore in the autumn light.

Before you set off for a walk around one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in Europe, download the ‘Echoscape’ audio experience to hear modernist painter Paul Nash, writer Thomas Hardy and Iron Age storyteller Nonna share their stories of this fascinating site.