Первые известные поселения в Дорсете − мезолитические, они относятся примерно к 8000 году до н.э. Популяция была невелика и в основном сосредоточилась вдоль берега на полуострове Пурбек, в районе города Уэймут, на перешейке Чезил-Бич и в долине реки Стур. Древние люди при помощи огня и инструментов вычистили пространство вокруг своих поселений от местных дубовых лесов. На дорсетских меловых возвышенностях тысячелетиями стояли укрепленные поселения, а почти под каждый холмом в графстве можно обнаружить захоронения, относящиеся к Неолиту и Бронзовому веку. Также на территории графства расположено множество укреплений (фортов) Железного века.
Badbury Rings is a mile north-east of the village of Shapwick and must rank with Maiden Castle as one of England's finest earthworks. It has three ramparts, each 40 feet high, separated by ditches, which encircle the 330 feet high hill fort. It provides a fine natural grandstand for the South Dorset Hunt's Point-to-Point meeting which is held there each year. There is a magnificent avenue of trees lining the Wimborne to Blandford road for about two miles just below the Rings. Legend has it that the farmer who planted them is supposed to have planted one for each day of the year. He obviously couldn't count to well, as there are over 365 of them on one side of the road alone. Dating from the Iron Age, a period spanning the years from 800BC to immediately prior to the Roman occupation in AD43, the hill fort at Badbury was constructed on a site that was certainly occupied from much earlier times. This can be seen by the four Bronze Age (2200BC-800BC) round barrows, the most notable of which are the three that lie just to your right as you travel up the track to the present car park.
The hill fort itself consists of three concentric, circular ditches that protect a large inner sanctuary for the inhabitants. Chalk spoil taken from each ditch was built up as loose scree on the inner edge of the ditch, effectively doubling its height and providing an earthen rampart. From the bottom of the ditch to the top of the rampart would have reached a height of some 40ft (15m) and, even accounting for 2,000 years of erosion, the ditches are formidable even today.