Bere Regis, rather farther away to the north-east, is the Roman Ibernium. This was a royal residence in Saxon days and a hunting lodge of that King John of many houses; very scanty remains of the buildings are pointed out in a meadow near the town. Part of the manor came to the Turbervilles, or d’Urbervilles, of Mr. Hardy’s romance. The church, restored in 1875 by Street, is a fine building, mostly Perpendicular with some Norman remains. Particularly noteworthy is the grand old roof of the nave with its gorgeously coloured and gilt figures, also the ancient pews and Transitional font. There are canopied tombs of the Turbervilles in a chapel and some modern stained glass in which the family arms figure. Bere Regis is the “Kingsbere” of Thomas Hardy, and Woodbury Hill, close by, is the scene of Greenhill Fair in Far from the Madding Crowd. Here, in the oval camp on the summit, a sheep fair has been held since before written records commence. These fairs, several of which take place in similar situations in Wessex, are of great antiquity. Some are held in the vicinity of certain “blue” stones, mysterious megaliths of unknown age.
It is doubtful if any town in England has so many remains of the remote past in its vicinity as Dorchester. Probably the Roman settlement of Durnovaria was a parvenu town to the Celts, whose closely adjacent Dwrinwyr was also an upstart in comparison with the fortified stronghold two miles away to the south; the “place by the black water” being an initial attempt to establish a trading centre by a people rather timidly learning from their Phoenician visitors. The great citadel at Maiden Castle belonged to a still earlier time, when men lived in a way which rendered trade a very superfluous thing.