Dorchester guide available on mobile phones

Dorset Echo

DORCHESTER’S Roman heritage has been matched with modern technology in a long-awaited re-vamp.

A mobile phone-based audio guide is part of changes to the Roman
Town House attraction in a project funded by a £50,000 grant from the
Heritage Lottery Fund.

Campaigners have made prolonged calls for the townhouse to be protected and fulfil its potential as a tourist attraction.

And now new lighting, artistic interpretations of how the Roman
house would have looked, information panels and a guidebook have been
launched.

Dorset County Council chairman John Peake helped unveil a new plaque to mark the completion of the project.

He said: “It’s taken a long time to get things happening but we got there in the end.

“So many Roman ruins get covered over so you’ve got to take the trouble to do what we have done with the town house.

“It is the most wonderful operation and I’m sure it’s going to bring joy to the young and people of all ages.”

To use the audio guide visitors are supplied with a telephone number
to call to listen to commentary on the ruins. The cost is a £1.50 fee
and the local rate for the duration of the call.

Marjory Winzar, 75, of Colliton Street, Dorchester, helped unveil
the new plaque and recalled her first visit to the site in 1937 when
she was four.

She said: “Back then I said to my mother, Oh dear, isn’t it dirty?’ – as they never washed off the mosaic.

“She was ever so cross.

“I won’t be using the audio guide as I’m happy with the guidebook.

“The new additions here are very good and it’s very clean now too.”

In a further attempt to attract younger visitors the new guidebook
includes a children’s comic to explain the site. Charlie Smith,
five, from Maiden Newton, attended the opening
after naming the Roman family used in the cartoon guide and on the
information panels. He called them Cornelius, Augustus, Antonia and
Claudia, and a dog called Caesar.

The remains of the Roman Town House in Colliton Walk were excavated
in 1937 after Dorset County Council bought Colliton Park to build
County Hall.

The new information panels are displayed around the site and the artistic impressions are in front of the rooms they depict.

They are displayed in the windows of the steel structure that both protects the site and shows the form of the original house.

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