History built Charmouth: a mix of social and natural forces shaped its birth and growth, and will shape its future. It began with the Romans, who constructed a network of roads across the south-west. Ackling Dyke linked Salisbury to Exeter via Dorchester, and Fosse Way went from Lincoln to Exeter. The routes crossed at Axminster. Charmouth emerged from the dynamics of Roman troop movement in the area. The nucleus of a settlement took place where the River Char ran into the sea and a river crossing was formed to accommodate the east-west route of Ackling Dyke.
The Romans depended upon salt-panning – the production of crystallised sea-salt as a preservative – and many of the villagers of Charmouth earned a living as saltworkers.