AN ARTISTIC initiative has been set up along the coastline commemorating the history of west Dorset and its most influential residents and events.

Each parish boundary along the Dorset coast path from Ware, on the Dorset/Devon boundary, all the way to Abbotsbury now has a boundary marker in place to let the walker know they have passed from one parish to the next.

Each marker, of which there are 11 in total, has been designed to both be aesthetically pleasing and to represent the history of the area.

Among the historical events and people remembered through this project are groundbreaking 19th century palaeontologist, Mary Anning, the believed landing of Danish Vikings on Charmouth Beach in 836 and the 'Wildcats of Bridport', a group of female net makers who went on strike and marched in protest of a pay cut.

Tara Hansford, countryside access improvement officer at Dorset Council, said: “The inspiration for this project stems from growing up in the heart of West Dorset. As a child I often accompanied my grandad, a local builder, in his little blue truck as he’d visit villages to price up work.

"He would often point out to me various features in the landscape – obviously hand crafted – where my grandad could often ‘read’ their unique style and could therefore tell me who had made them.

"It was fascinating. Sadly and increasingly today, many of these artefacts are overlooked, obscured, no longer practised and therefore often lost.

"This project has provided the opportunity to reintroduce more of the ‘local’ and ‘distinctive’ interest back into our surroundings."

This project is part of Dorset Coastal Connections, a connected portfolio of 18 projects along the Dorset coast which aims to support and boost the economies of Dorset coastal areas.

The portfolio is funded by a grant from the governments Coastal Communities Fund and partner organisations, coordinated by the Dorset Coast Forum.

Local artists who worked on this project included Andrew Whittle, Sarah Hough, Will Pinder, Jake Reilly, Alice Blogg, Brendon Murless, Delphine Jones, Isla Chaney, Alex Brooks, Ed Brooks, Greta Berlin and Emma Molony.

Ms Hansford added: "The West Dorset Coast Path Parish Boundary project has brought people together to create artefacts to celebrate special locations. It’s a collaboration between local people, landowners, local artists and craftspeople in response to their local landscape and its rich cultural history. These artefacts are not interpretation or information panels – they are practical, hand crafted 'signposts' informing the walker when they pass from one parish to another as they travel along the coast path.

"This project hopes to also encourage the walker to look inland and gain a better awareness about the landscape they are walking through and curiosity to explore and learn more about the Dorset parishes along the coast path”

For more information on the project, visit

Fossils, Vikings and nets

Eleven pieces of art have been, or soon will be, installed along the Dorset coastline to mark each parish boundary.

The first, marking the crossing from Devon into Dorset, will pay tribute to three women instrumental in (19th century palaeontology) Mary Anning, Mary Buckland and Sarah Woodruff - with silhouette pieces of all three. The border of Lyme Regis and Wootton Fitzpaine will soon feature a piece highlighting the local landscape, with its distinctive hilltops providing birds eye viewpoints. This will be installed in the new year. Crossing into Charmouth another marker set to be installed in 2021 commemorates Mary Anning for her work finding fossils in the Charmouth cliffs.

From Charmouth to Stanton St Gabriel, a gate will take residents back to 836, when the Vikings apparently landed on Charmouth Beach. Moving into Chideock the boundary will be marked with a seat sculpted from fallen trees. The marker from Chideock into Symondsbury is in the shape of a barrel, remembering the coast's rich smuggling history.

The 'Wildcats of Bridport' are remembered on the Symondsbury to Bridport boundary. A sculpture of stacked fishing boats marks the Bridport to Burton Bradstock boundary, highlighting the 'spotters' who would stand on the cliff top and shout when they saw a shoal of fish.

Marking the meeting of Burton Bradstock and Swyre, an installation echoes how the landscape changes with the seasons with smooth, bleached to dark jagged elements. On the Puncknowle border, a house which provided refuge for shipwrecked sailors is remembered.

At the end of the trail, moving into Abbotsbury, a sculpture celebrates some of the local plant life.