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. It is a fact that Britain had cities or seats of learning and Julius Caesar mentions thirty one of them specifically in his writing, 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 Bardic Seat of Caer Dur


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 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 Competition for The Bard of Caer Dur

Jerry Bird was the original organiser of The Bardic Seat for Dorchester. He sadly passed away in 2023. The new organiser for the Bard of Caer Dur is Peter Roe, The Second Bard of Dorchester. The next competition will take place in September 2024. Interested persons can express an interest by sending an e-mail to

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