Page images

By Mrs. C. BUCKLAND, Shaftesbury :

A collection of minerals, two branches of coral, and several sections of fossil shells. By Mrs. RUTTER, Layton :

A large collection of fossils from the upper green sand of the neighbourhood of Shaftesbury, including two fine specimens of sigillaria, a very fine specimen of fossil turtle ( Trionyx ? ) showing the plastron and carapace nearly perfect, Trigonia Phillipsii, Nautilus filled with carbonate of lime, section of ammonite,

&c. Also specimens of Kimmeridge coal money (?) By Mrs. Downs, Shaftesbury

A large and valuable collection of antique china. Tray of bird's eggs. Several specimens of ammonites from the upper green sand. Coins, shells,

Ormolu clock, &c.
By MRS. GLEAD, Shaftesbury :

Case of preserved butterflies.
By Mr. J. TARGETT, Shaftesbury :

An ancient skillet, the metal handle bearing in raised letters the inscription


Ancient carving in oak (subject unknown,) By J. C. THOMAS, Esq., Shaftesbury :

A collection of gold and silver coins. Several ancient books, including The Preacher's Tripartite,” 1657. Theophrastus and Martin's Lectures read by Mr. Upjohn at the Three Swans Inn, Shaston, 1751, &c. " Also Head

of Garrick,” and “Dutch Group.” By Mr. John BAKER, Warminster :

A collection of fossils from the upper green sand near Warminster. By Mr. GATEHOUSE, Shaftesbury :

Specimens of Bath, Tisbury, and Shaftesbury green stone. By Mr. WHITMARSH, Melbury :

Specimen of Melbury stone. By Mr. COOMBE, Ansty :

Specimens of stone from Ansty hole quarry, and Hazelton quarry. By Mr. J. MILLS, Shaftesbury :

Several cases of stuffed birds, fossils, &o. By Lord ARUNDEL,

Specimens of Tisbury stone. By Miss PATTESON,

Collection of Eggs.


Ancient History of Shaftesbury,

By the Rev. J. J. REYNOLDS.

HE town in which we are now assembled claims a very

high antiquity, and at certain periods it has been the scene of events of considerable interest.

If we may believe Geoffreyl of Monmouth, it was built by Hudibras, King of Britain 950 B.C. Hudibras was grandfather of Lear the hero of one of Shakspeare's plays. Geoffrey tells us that an eagle is said to have spoken · while the wall of the town was being built, “and indeed," he adds, “I should have transmitted the speech to posterity had I thought it true, as the rest of the history.” Others, say Camden and Hutchins, state that instead of an eagle it was a man named Aquila, who prophesied to the effect that the sovereignty of Britain after passing to Roman, Saxon, Dane, and Norman, should return to the ancient British

As the mingled blood of all these races is said to flow in the veins of our present gracious Queen, we may consider the prophecy, if ever uttered, to have had its fulfilment. Drayton would make the prophet neither man nor eagle, but an angel. Other chronicles repeat the statement of the early foundation of the town. Holinshed ascribes it to Lud son of Liel, eighth king of the Britons from Brute the Trojan. John of Brompton however refers it to the brave Chief Cassibelan about 60 B.C. These statements perhaps simply prove, that in the earliest historical times, it was believed to have existed from a very remote period. Each of these Chiefs or petty Kings may have been its patron, as were greater monarchs after them, but its magnificent situation had probably led to its permanent occupation, at a period far anterior to either of these dates. Its ancient name “Caer Palladur,” bespeaks a British origin. Caer" means a city or town; “Palladur," the shaft of a spear, or


Book ii., chap 9.

the shaft of a pillar,' and hence a pillar or tower. Shaftsburgh or Shaftesbury seems to be simply a Saxon translation of the British Dame the shaft or tower-burgh. Other meanings of the name Palladur have been suggested, but the fact of the Saxons having substituted the word “Shaft” for “Palladur” is, to my mind, a strong presumption of the meaning to be attached to the word. The aborigines of this Island, it is known, were accustomed to erect round towers on lofty wooded eminences. The name therefore may have arisen from such a tower built here by the very earliest inhabitants, the situation being such as they were wont to select,a high and commanding position in the neighbourhood of a wooded country, and so thickly wooded was it that there was a saying that a squirrel could travel from Shaftesbury to Gillingham without touching ground. In the ordnance map it is still marked as Gillingham Forest. From one of these ancient round towers erected on Castle Hill by those early settlers who journeyed hither perhaps from the plains of Shinar, this town may have received its earlier appellation “Caer Palladur,” the city of the Pillar or tower, given to it pre-eminently from the Shaft-like appearance such a tower so situated would have when viewed from the country round. Traces of very ancient masonry have been found on Castle Hill, and tradition from the earliest times asserts that a castle or tower once existed there, yet we know that none has stood there within what may be termed historical times. The ruined British Tower was probably succeeded by a Roman "Castrum Exploratorium.” On the very brow of Castle Hill to the West is a small mount surrounded by intrenchments, its area about an acre. These

i Hutchins.

2 The aborigines, probably of the family of Shem, or at least some early Eastern colony, preserving much of their pristine civilization, were wont to erect peculiar round towers in lofty situations: King and Polwhele call attention to the striking similarity between the old castle at Launceston in Cornwall, and the citadel of Ecbatana, as described by Herodotus. They consider that this similarity of style in building, taken with other circumstances, bespeaks an Eastern origin for the first inhabitants of this country, to whom they and others consider the old castle at Launceston may fairly be attributed.


intrenchments though modernized by the club-men during the civil war in Charles 1st time, appear to have been of Roman construction.

During the occupation of Britain by the Romans the town is said to have been one of their favorite stations. Here it is also reported was a temple to Pallas ;? and some would have it, that hence the name “Caer Palladur;” but the name I believe existed before any such temple, if indeed there ever was one. The Temple however is not only said to have existed but to have been very magnificent, served by its several courses of priests, called Flamens under an Arch-flamen ;3 hence quaint old Fuller takes occasion to say, that he believes the whole story to be “flams and arch-flams, even notorious falsehoods.” 4 Be this as it may the Romans certainly resided much in this town and neighbourhood. This is evident from the number of Roman coins found, from the Roman Intrenchments on Castle Hill, and from the causeway approaching the town from Sherborne, which may be conjectured to be of Roman origin. A few years since also in excavating for the foundation of the house in the High Street now occupied by Mr. White, Roman Architectural remains of the Doric order, as I am informed, and seemingly of a building of considerable magnitude and importance were discovered. Could this have been the Temple of Pallas ? I ought perhaps before proceeding with the history of the town to give one or two other suggestions which have been made as to the origin of its name. It may, it is said, have arisen from the seeming shaft-like spur or promontory on which it is built; but viewed from the country round, the eminence on which the town stands rather seems to form the horn of a bow. It has also been suggested that the words “Palladur” may be read “Pal” or “Pel a dwr," i.e." far from water.” This however does not agree with the Saxon equivalent “Shaftesbury," and with respect to water, there are

1 Hutchins. Hist. Dorset, Introduction, p. 12. 2 Hutchins.

3 Geoffrey of Monmouth, 4 Book i., Cent. II., 9.

• By W. Batten, Esq., Agent to the Marquis of Westminster. 6 Roman remains have also been discovered, as I think, among the foundations of the abbey church now in course of excavation.

several wells in the town which are said never to have failed. That there was a good supply of water we may infer from the fact that the Saxons, a prudent and warlike people, selected it for a permanent fortified position, which they would not have done if destitute of this necessary of life. The real history of Shaftesbury commences with its restoration, and the foundation of its Abbey by Alfred the Great A.D. 880. During the Danish invasion it had, probably in common with almost every other town of any importance, been destroyed, since it is clear that it had been a place of note from a much earlier period.

The spring of the year 879 found King Alfred a fugitive, concealed from his enemies, with a few trusty followers in the Isle of Athelney in Somersetshire. Encouraged 3 however by the defeat and death of the Danish Chief Hubba,+ who was at this time completely routed and slain with upwards of twelve hundred of his followers, by the Earl of Devon, before the fortress of Kenwith, near the mouth of the River Torridge in North Devon," he resolved to leave his retreat, and the Royal Standard was unfurled at Egbertstone to the east of Selwood Forest. To trace the march of Alfred from Athelney to the victory of Ethandun, which restored him to his throne, is not an easy task. The late Sir Richard C. Hoare, finding a place called “King's Settle” in the parish of Stourton, Wilts, with a tradition that Alfred halted there on his first day's march, built a tower to preserve the memory of that event. As local names and traditions carry with them a presumption of truth, the surmise of Sir R. C. Hoare, with respect to the halts of Alfred at this spot, is highly probable. The chief difficulties however remain. Asser says “Alfred encamped one night at Egbertstone.” Most writers have considered this to be Brixton

1 The ancient wells are of very great depth, and it is of course very expensive to sink them; great thanks are therefore due to the Marquis of Westminster for the abundant supply of water now afforded, by means of the water works recently erected; this supply however is not procured from a distance, but from a well sunk on the spot and within the borough. 2 Leland.

3 Henry of Huntingdon. 4 Roger of Wendover,

5 Asser and others.

« PreviousContinue »