Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast about a mile west of Lulworth Cove in Dorset. Although Durdle Door is privately owned by the Welds family in the name of the Lulworth Estate, it is open to the public.
The origins of the word “durdle” are less than clear. Some say the word “durdle” is derived from the Saxon word “durch,” meaning “through.” Others say it evolved from the Old English word “thyrel” or “thirl” meaning “holed,” “bore,” or “drill.” (The “th” sounds like “d” in Dorset dialect). Finally, if I remember correctly, the plaque at the beach indicated that “durdle” meant “opening.” Whatever the actual origins, all variations tend to indicate that “durdle” refers to the open space within the arch.
If “durdle” refers to the arch’s open space, then my next question is, “Why did someone name it after a door?” Wouldn’t that be repetitive? Turns out “Durdle Door” is also sometimes written as “Durdle Dor.” I tried to find the origins of the word “dor,” but haven’t been successful yet. I’m guessing, though, that the “dor” or “door” in Durdle Door doesn’t mean the same thing as what one would find in a building. Then again…. I’ll keep looking, but do you happen to know what “dor/door” means in this context?
Now that we’ve got the name sorted out (sort of), I’ll say that whatever it’s called it was worth the walk to see it. I’ll be posting a few more pictures where more of the arch’s opening is visible and talk a little bit about fossils then, too. Stay tuned.