The top of the downs from above Cerne Abbas, looking south east towards the River Piddle valley
Location of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB in the UK
Culver Down, Isle of Wight
Map of Dorset, including the Dorset Downs, showing the geology
Ashmore pond
Galium verum (L.) Lady's Bedstraw, a typical English chalk downland plant
Badbury Rings hill fort

The Dorset Downs are an area of chalk downland in the centre of the county Dorset in south west England.

- Dorset Downs

The downs are the most western part of a larger chalk formation which also includes (from west to east) Cranborne Chase, Salisbury Plain, Hampshire Downs, Chiltern Hills, North Downs and South Downs.

- Dorset Downs

The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain and the West Wiltshire Downs in the north, and the Dorset Downs to the south west.

- Cranborne Chase

To the southwest, downlands continue via Cranborne Chase into Dorset as the Dorset Downs and southwards through Hampshire as the Hampshire Downs onto the Isle of Wight.

- Downland

The downland has a long history with many earthworks and archaeology from the Neolithic age onwards.

- Cranborne Chase
The top of the downs from above Cerne Abbas, looking south east towards the River Piddle valley

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Overall

Stonehenge, the most famous antiquity on Salisbury Plain

Salisbury Plain

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Chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 sqmi.

Chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 sqmi.

Stonehenge, the most famous antiquity on Salisbury Plain
Rough map of military training area (green) on Salisbury Plain within Wiltshire (blue) (it accounts for about half the area of Salisbury Plain)
Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain
Military use makes some areas of the plain inaccessible to the public.
Typical grassland at Netheravon Down.
The burnt-tip orchid (Neotinea ustulata) can be found on Salisbury Plain
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly (Hamearis lucina)
The cuckoo bee Nomada armata
The fairy shrimp Chirocephalus diaphanus
The stone curlew

The river valleys surrounding it, and other downs and plains beyond them loosely define its boundaries.

The Hampshire Downs and the Berkshire Downs are chalk downland to the east and north of Salisbury Plain, and the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase are to the southwest.

Corfe Castle, captured and destroyed by Cromwell's army in 1646

Dorset

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County in South West England on the English Channel coast.

County in South West England on the English Channel coast.

Corfe Castle, captured and destroyed by Cromwell's army in 1646
Geological map of Dorset
Durdle Door, a natural arch near Lulworth Cove
The beach near Bournemouth Pier. Dorset's coastline is a major attraction for tourists.
The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester
Traction engines on display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair
Thomas Hardy
Sherborne Abbey

Dorset has a varied landscape featuring broad elevated chalk downs, steep limestone ridges and low-lying clay valleys.

These limestone areas include a wide band of Cretaceous chalk which crosses the county as a range of hills from north-east to south-west, incorporating Cranborne Chase and the Dorset Downs, and a narrow band running from south-west to south-east, incorporating the Purbeck Hills.