British Place Names

A comprehensive online gazetteer

Home » Dorset » Shaftesbury, Dorset - local map, administrative data, historical information and reader comments

Shaftesbury, Dorset

Local area map loading...

Shaftesbury, Dorset

Shaftesbury, historically also known as Shaston, is a town in Dorset, England. It is situated on the A30 road, 20 miles west of Salisbury, near to the border with Wiltshire. The town is built 718 feet (219 metres) above sea level on the side of a chalk and greensand hill, which is part of Cranborne Chase, the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset. It is one of the oldest and highest towns in Britain.
DistrictNorth Dorset
Administrative CountyDorset
Traditional CountyDorset
OS GridST8622
OS Settlement ClassificationTown
RegionSouth West
Police AuthorityDorset
Fire and Rescue AuthorityDorset
Fire and Rescue AuthorityDorset
Ambulance AuthoritySouth Western
Dialling code01747

Other names by which Shaftesbury, Dorset has been known in the past

Caer Palladwr ~ Scaeftesbyrig ~ Sceaftesburyg ~ Sceptesberie ~ Septonia ~ Shaftsbury ~ Shaston ~ Shaston East and West

Shaftesbury, Dorset in John Bartholomew's "Gazetteer of the British Isles" (1887)

Shaftesbury (or Shaston), mun. bor. and market town, in N. of Dorset, 3½ miles SW. of Semley ry. sta 28 miles NE. of Dorchester, and 101 from London, 179 ac., pop. 2312; P.O., T.O., 2 Banks. Shaftesbury is a very ancient place, either built or rebuilt by King Alfred, from whom it acquired a great Benedictine nunnery, which received the remains of Edward the Martyr, and was the place where King Canute died. It is a purely agricultural town. It was a borough by prescription, first chartered by Elizabeth. It returned 2 members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. until 1832, and 1 member from 1832 until 1885. The parliamentary limits extended into Wilts.

Shaftesbury, Dorset in "A Topographical Dictionary of England" edited by Samuel Lewis (1848)

SHAFTESBURY, or Shaston, a borough and market-town, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Moncton- up -Wimborne, county of Dorset, 28 miles (N. N. E.) from Dorchester, and 101 (W. S. W.) from London, on the great road from London to Exeter; containing 3170 inhabitants. The origin of this town has given rise to much conjecture. It is supposed by some to have had existence even prior to the birth of Christ, and to have been called Caer Calladwr. But that which appears to be the most probable period of its foundation is the reign of King Alfred; in confirmation of which, Camden states, that in the time of William of Malmesbury an old stone was to be seen, with an inscription purporting that King Alfred built the city (if we may so render fecit) in 880, the eighth year of his reign. The Saxon derivation of the name from Sceaft, signifying the point of a hill, is thought to be in allusion to the situation of the town. A Benedictine nunnery, founded here, has been ascribed to various persons. Camden, following William of Malmesbury, attributes it to Elgiva, wife of Edmund, great grandson to King Alfred; but Leland and many other writers assert the latter monarch to have been its founder, and his daughter the first abbess. To this abbey the remains of Edward the Martyr were removed after his murder at Corfe-Castle. It appears to have been much resorted to by pilgrims, amongst whom was King Canute, who died here; and the extent of its endowments may be estimated from the fact of their value at its dissolution being £1166 per annum: the remains, however, are inconsiderable. The importance of the monastery naturally increased that of the town, which is reported to have contained, at an early period, ten parochial churches: in the time of Edward the Confessor three mints were established here, and according to a survey made shortly before the Norman Conquest, the place contained 104 houses, and three mintmasters.


Your comments about Shaftesbury, Dorset

What do you know about Shaftesbury, Dorset? Give us the benefit of your local knowledge and opinions here!

comments powered by Disqus