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For Teachers

Introduction to 'Dorset and the Sea'


Curriculum Links
Teaching Ideas
Schools Projects

Structure of the Web Site:

The site is divided into six fields:


This field is primarily for KS2 children and family use. Participants are invited to adopt the role of a customs officer investigating eight people from the 18th and 19th centuries, but before they begin they need to find out how smugglers operated. This information is provided under the headings of:

  • Funding / Big Business
  • Sailors Purchase Goods and Deliver
  • The Contraband is Landed, Hidden and Distributed
  • Customers

More detailed information and relevant maps may be found in the Archive field.

When pupils are ready to begin their investigation they are encouraged to print out a portfolio for each suspect. The eight people are all real people and the data is authentic. Pupils record their verdict and then consult with the Commissioner of Customs (i.e. the teacher!) to see if their fellow customs officers have reached the same conclusion.

Once the portfolio has been completed pupils are invited to find out what really happened. In some cases the evidence is inconclusive and the verdict is open to debate. What degree of involvement constitutes guilt? If Squire Hooper deliberately turns a blind eye to smuggling or young Charlie Dean acts as a look out, how culpable are they? Children can apply these issues to their school environment and discuss their own ideas on personal responsibility, group loyalties and the like.


This field is primarily for KS3 and family use. Participants are invited to match objects retrieved from wreck sites with five ships that sank off the Dorset coast between 1786 - 1915. As pupils investigate each ship or object they print out the data and keep it in their folders. Once they have successfully matched a ship with an object the can discover the full story. Further details about each wreck are available from the Archive field.

Dorset Museums.

Museums in Dorset tell the fascinating story of the County's past. Each museum has a brief entry describing its collections and details of how to make contact.

For Teachers.

The Teachers’ Centre provides support for teachers to facilitate schools’ use of the web site. It includes downloadable curriculum links, teaching suggestions and a schools project section to which schools are invited to contribute pupils’ work.

Virtual Galleries.

The Virtual Galleries bring together pictures of objects from museums across the county. They are sub-divided into smuggling, shipwrecks and a general gallery. (The first five objects in the General Gallery are from the Shipwrecks learning activity. If these objects were located in the Shipwrecks Gallery children would soon realise and take a short cut to discover the right answers to the shipwreck questions!) The other images in the General Gallery are linked to the Great Storm which devastated the Dorset coast in 1824.


The Archive provides more detailed information about the objects and stories referred to elsewhere on the web site. It is sub-divided into smuggling, shipwrecks and a general archive and includes extracts from eyewitness accounts, diaries, contemporary newspapers, maps and the like. The information about the origins of the East India Company, the log books of the Halsewell and the Earl of Abergavenny, and extracts from the Memoirs of William Hickey, including Munnoo’s Story, are particularly relevant to QCA History Guidelines, units 13 & 14.

The Archive also includes a data base of smugglers listed in the Dorchester Gaol registers, 1782 - 1853, and a data base of smugglers who appeared in the records of the Lyme Regis Quarter Sessions, 1724 - 1749. Both data bases can be interrogated by pupils and provide a fascinating insight into the involvement of individual parishes and provide profiles of the smugglers themselves.

The Archive also contains information about the natural history of shipwrecks linked to a KS 3 Science teaching suggestion, and a list of sources used to compile the web site.

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