A Mesolithic flint flake was found in Little Hill Field. Prehistoric flint artefacts have been found around Dorton House. A Mesolithic to Neolithic flint scraper was found with some medieval pottery east of the house; two Neolithic flint flakes were also found to the east in a watching brief for a gas pipeline; and Neolithic flint flakes and Roman pottery were found to the south-east during the watching brief. It was during the same gas pipeline works that a rich Late Iron Age cremation burial was uncovered. Most of the artefacts were disturbed by the mechanical digger. The cremated bone had been placed in a wooden box lined with basketry along with a mirror. A ring, three amphorae, perhaps containing wine or oil, two flagons, one of them from Gaul, and a pottery bowl were also found as part of the grave goods. A Late Iron Age brooch was found in Little Hill Field, suggesting more activity of this period in the area.
Late Iron Age and early Roman pottery was found when a field near Dorton Hill Farm was ploughed deeper than usual, suggesting the possible site of a settlement. An enclosure is known from aerial photographs in a field close to Dorton Hill Farm. It was thought to date to the Iron Age or Roman period but the remains have now been ploughed out. Roman pottery and tile was found in a fieldwalking survey south of the church and early Roman pottery was found in drain digging at Hill Farm.
Dorton is mentioned in Domesday and was part of Bernwood Forest from before this time. Bernwood had been a hunting forest from the time of Edward the Confessor. It grew to its largest extent under Henry II. The whole area was not covered by woods; in the medieval period a forest was a place where deer roamed for hunting and so included open land, villages and fields. All those who lived in the forest were not allowed to hunt or even gather wood without a special licence from the king. Bernwood Forest was finally disafforested in the reign of James I in 1635, although it had been shrinking in size since the time of King John (1199-1216).
Dorton itself seems to have shrunk in size as well. Aerial photographs show earthworks of the medieval village around the church. Records that Sir John Dormer was given a licence to keep game in Dorton may be associated with other earthworks nearby that have been interpreted as either pillow mounds for rabbit warrens or banks for a game enclosure. A windmill was also recorded as being attached to the manor in the 16th century. Some of the medieval field lynchets in Little Hill Field were bulldozed flat in the 1970s. Ridge-and-furrow does survive around the parish, however.
The oldest surviving building in Dorton is St John the Baptist’s church. It was first built in the 12th century but has been altered in nearly every century since except the 18th and 19th. It was restored and the north wall of the nave rebuilt in 1904. Other listed buildings date to the 17th and 18th centuries, such as Spa Farm.
Dorton House was built in the early 17th century for Sir John Dormer and is now used as Ashfold School. It has a kitchen garden surrounded by a 17th or 18th century wall with an attached summerhouse that is listed. A drainage ditch east of the house revealed a possible medieval wall and drain associated with 14th to 15th century pottery, possibly part of a medieval predecessor to the house.
Dorton Spa was established in the 19th century and was demolished in 1907. Remains of it can still be seen in Spa Woods. It was based on the Chalybeate Spring and was built in the 1840s and had a billiard room, ballrooms and a reading room. A lake, ornamental fountain and aviary were constructed in the grounds, but the whole is now covered by woodland.