Wareham is located between the Rivers Frome and Piddle, and is built on a site that was occupied as far back as the Iron Age, with pottery and coins giving evidence of Roman activity.
The word Wareham is of Saxon origin and means ‘homestead by the weir’. During Saxon times, the town became established as an important cross-Channel port and the River Frome and what is now The Quay, would have been a very busy place. Ships used to arrive here from the continent and unloaded their cargoes for distribution throughout the area – the trade being mostly salt and potters’ clay.
Wareham Town Walls were built to defend the town from Viking attacks. They surround the heart of the town on three sides (the fourth side being defended by the River Frome) and are the best preserved Saxon town defences in England.
After the prosperous times of Saxon England, the Middle Ages were a period of slow but inevitable decline as the river silted up and trade transferred to the new port of Poole.