Of all the Iron Age tribes identified from pre-Roman Britain, the Durotriges are the most culturally distinct. Roughly occupying an area that equates with modern Dorset, together with significant parts of southern Wiltshire and south eastern Somerset, the pottery, coinage, settlements and burial practices of the Durotriges clearly marks them out from their contemporary tribal neighbours the Atrebates, Belgae, Dumnonii and Dobunni.
In 2009, Bournemouth University established the Durotriges Project, a programme of archaeological fieldwork designed to further investigate the nature of the native cultural footprint and objectively assess how Britons and Romans interacted.
The project was intended as an opportunity to move away from the dramatic interpretation of historical events, with the Durotriges actively resisting the Roman invasion of AD 43, before being defeated in a series of battles and their culture and identity being subsequently eradicated. Instead, it aimed to discover whether a more rigorous examination of the archaeological dataset could shed light on the true nature of later Iron Age society before the arrival of Rome and its evolution into the first century AD and beyond.
The main focus of excavation began at a number of discrete locations to the north of Winterborne Kingston, near Bere Regis, Dorset and this has been complemented by an intensive programme of geophysical survey and targeted ground intervention elsewhere across the county.
To date, an Early Bronze Age cemetery, a Later Bronze Age settlement, two areas of Early Iron Age settlement, a Middle Iron Age banjo enclosure, a Late Iron Age burial ground, a Late Iron Age settlement, a Roman villa and associated farm, a sub Roman cemetery and three areas of sub Roman settlement have been excavated.
Interim results have been published and the project has featured in a number of radio and TV programmes including A History of Ancient Britain and Digging for Britain.