The River Tarrant
is a 12km
long tributary of the River Stour
. The valley lies to the east of Blandford Forum
and runs through Cranborne Chase
, an area of chalk downland
. The eight Tarrant Valley
villages all bear the name of the river: listed in order from the river’s source they are:
There were three other Tarrant Communities;
- Tarrant Stubhampton north of Tarrant Gunville and part of that Parish: This is now known as Stubhampton.
- Tarrant Antioch which may have been an earlier name for Tarrant Rawston, or may have been a distinct community just north of Tarrant Rawston. Tarrant Antioch was served by St Mary Tarrant Crawford, where there was a devotion to St Margaret of Antioch.
- Tarrant Preston: This was a hamlet and still exists marked by Preston Farm.
Churches also existed once at Tarrant Launceston (the site is on Higher Dairy Farm), and Tarrant Rawston (which still exists but in private ownership). In the middle ages there was a Church at Tarrant Stubhampton. The Church at Tarrant Crawford is looked after by the Redundant Churches Commission, and the Parish is united with Tarrant Keyneston.
A Roman road followed the valley and there are many tumuli on the hills on both sides of the river, evidence of long occupation .