Tales of Dorset

Over the centuries, Dorset landscapes have inspired poets, authors and artists.

Reading, sharing and even creating your own stories is a great way to connect to nature, the seasons and a sense of place.

Here, Martin Maudsley, a professional Dorset storyteller who you may have heard, usually standing on hill tops, within woodlands or beside orchards, re-tells a small selection of our favourite Dorset stories.

In these stories, Martin picks a feature of the landscape, for example a barrow – a burial mound often seen on high points – and crafts a vivid story, often interweaved with traditional folklore, to create an alternative view on something you may not have thought twice about! To help bring the stories to life we have twinned it to some characterful hand drawn animated images by Tom Hughes.

If you are anything like us then, after listening to these stories, you’ll find you notice these features everywhere when you’re out, and you’ll be thinking of the magical and cunning characters behind the previously mundane of things!

Watch Raven

“Raven”. In this story the Raven, a bird full of character and charisma seen often along the Jurassic Coast , takes a leading role in this magical myth about the creation of the world.

Watch "King of the Birds"

“The King of the Birds”. In this story the birds of Britain flock together on Maiden Castle to decide which of them should become King of the Birds, each stepping forward to gloat about why they should be the king. 

Watch "The Singing Barrow"

“The Singing Barrow”. Above Weymouth on Bincombe Hill lies the Bincombe Bumps , 9 bronze age burial mounds, known long ago as the Singing Barrows. In this story, greed overcomes one man to steal from the ‘fairy folk’ living in the barrows. 

Watch "Lazy Lawrence"

“Lazy Lawrence”. There was once a name that every West Country boy or girl used too know. Lazy Lawrence. He’s the pixie pony, the faerie horse who gallops around the orchards guarding the apples trees.

A little more about our storyteller

With a professional background in ecology, Martin has a particular passion for storytelling outdoors and with nature themes, especially trees and woodlands. He delivers sessions for school groups combining storytelling with environmental education, and has worked with a wide range of local groups and national organisations as a storyteller and facilitator using stories for creative engagement with the local environment and the natural world. Find out more about Martin.

To the park

Picnic in the Parks has many more activities for you to enjoy. Head back to map and explore the other zones.