Dorset is in the southwest of England and covers an area of 1024 square miles (2653km2). It has borders with Devon in the west, Somerset in the northwest, Wiltshire in the northeast and Hampshire in the east. In the south there is a coastline of 149 miles (240km) on the English Channel. Dorchester is the county town; the renowned novelist and poet Thomas Hardy died there, Dorset was the principal setting for many of his novels (he renamed Dorchester Casterbridge).
Most of the coastline forms the Jurassic Coast, designated a World Heritage Site in December 2001, and documents the entire Mesozoic era from the Triassic to the Cretaceous, 180 million years of geological history, and has yielded many important fossils including the first complete Ichthyosaur [Greek for fish lizard] and fossiled Jurassic trees. This coastline is also home to Golden Cap 626ft (191m) the highest point on the south coast of England. The highest point in Dorset is Lewesdon Hill 915ft (279m).