Dorset County Museum
Recreates the sounds, smells and sights of ancient Egypt, including a fake-gold mock-up of a pharaoh's tomb.
Whisks you off to 8th-century China for a reconstruction of the famous figures.
Roman Town House
The knee-high flint walls and beautifully preserved mosaics here powerfully conjure up the Roman occupation of Dorchester (then...
Surf & Turf at Shelley's Plaice
Lobster pots and lifebelts dangle from the rafters at this kooky bistro, where the chalked-up menu depends entirely on what local...
Lonely Planet review
The Thomas Hardy collection here is the biggest in the world, offering extraordinary insights into his creative process – reading his cramped handwriting, it's often possible to spot where he's crossed out one word and substituted another. There's also an atmospheric reconstruction of his study at Max Gate and a letter from Siegfried Sassoon, asking Hardy if Sassoon can dedicate his first book of poems to him.
As well as the superb Hardy exhibits, look out for Jurassic Coast fossils, especially the huge ichthyosaur and the 6ft fore paddle of a plesiosaur. Bronze and Iron Age finds from Maiden Castle include a treasure trove of coins and neck rings, while Roman artefacts include 70 gold coins, nail cleaners and (toe-curlingly) ear picks.