Old Harry Rocks - History and Facts | History Hit

Old Harry Rocks

Image Credit: MacDrone / Shutterstock.com

About Old Harry Rocks

Standing proud on Handfast Point at the southern end of Studland Bay, Dorset, is one of the south coast’s most famous landmarks – Old Harry Rocks. Also known as Old Harry, the stack of three formations make up a part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and are managed by the National Trust.

History of Old Harry Rocks

Thousands of years ago, Old Harry Rocks used to be part of a long stretch of chalk between Purbeck and the Isle of Wight that later eroded away during the last Ice Age. On the Isle of Wight, the Needles, another chalk rock formation which used to be connected to Old Harry Rocks, are visible from Studland Bay on a clear day.

There are a number of theories as to how Old Harry got its name; some say it was named after a famous local pirate called Harry Paye, or the devil himself. Indeed, the top of the nearby cliff is known as Old Nick’s Ground, and Old Nick is another name for the devil.

Nearby Old Harry’s Wife was another stack which was eroded through abrasion and corrosion until the bottom was so weak that the top fell away, leaving only a stump.

Old Harry Rocks today

Old Harry Rocks are a popular site amongst geologists and tourists alike. The route leading to Old Harry is popular with cyclists and walkers and is part of the South West Coast Path.

Near Old Harry are open grass areas where lots of people enjoy a picnic; similarly, the nearby village of Studland is home to lots of places to eat and drink.

Getting to Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks can be reached on foot from nearby Studland or Swanage. The nearest train station is Wareham.

Featured In

Jurassic Coast Must-See Sites

Walking the Jurassic Coast? Here are 11 unmissable monuments to visit along the way, from crumbling 11th-century churches to dazzling prehistoric rock formations.