The Bard of Caer Dur (Dorchester)

The Origins of Caer Dur

It is normally considered that pre-Roman Britain was pretty much devoid of infrastructures, virtually uninhabited perhaps, but this simply wasn’t the case for it is a fact that Britain had cities and Julius Caesar mentions them specifically, although he was somewhat disparaging about them saying they were not like Roman cities. Nevertheless they existed and Dorchester was specifically named as Caer Dur.


In the book ‘The Origin of Language and Nations’ By Rowland Jones published in 1764 we found references to Caer as meaning City or Fort and to Dur meaning Double or Oak. This could relate to the two large circles of oak that existed at Mount Pleasant and in the area of the Tudor Arcade and Waitrose in the centre of Dorchester*. This site, when in its prime, would have been huge, on a prominent hillside in the neighbourhood, along with Maumbury Rings, Mount Pleasant Henge, Maiden Castle and Poundbury Hill Fort which all featured in the area over a period time.


There were thirty-one towns believed to have been Druidic centres in ancient times (and therefore also Bardic centres) – each seat was a cyfiaith or capital of a tribe. Caer Dur (Dorchester) was one of them. The current movement to reinstate the Bardic Chairs of Albion began in the 1990′s largely promoted by the late Archdruid of Bath, Tim Sebastion.

The first open competition for The Bard of Caer Dur was held at the Corn Exchange in March 2009 and was won by Laura Johnson, a Sixth Former who attended The Thomas Hardye School. The runner up Peter Roe was appointed as The Deputy Bard of Caer Dur.
Ash Mandrake, the 11th Bard of Bath who was one of the judges i said "It is fantastic that the judges selected Laura as the 1st Bard of Dorchester, particularly as a woman and she was confirmed one month before Carol Duffy was selected as the Poet Laureate."


The aim of the Bardic Chair of Caer Dur is to encourage the arts of poetry, storytelling and music in the town of Dorchester and the surrounding area of West Dorset. The county seat has a strong literary tradition in this area in the form of Thomas Hardy, William Barnes, Robert Young and the Powys brothers. The competition was supported by The Hardy Society, Dorchester Town Council and the Dorchester Bid.

The aim of this page is to see if there is any interest from people in seeking to find a new Bard of Caer Dur. If there is sufficient interest it is expected that the new appointment will take place through competition during the summer of 2023. Further details will be posted as they become available.

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