The Dorset Historic Towns Project report on Shaftesbury.
The historic urban character of Shaftesbury is closely bound up with its distinctive landscape setting and the quality of its historic fabric, as well as its significant early history. The dramatic hilltop setting and spectacular views from the town along Gold Hill, Park Walk and Castle Hill are major elements in the town's distinctiveness. The late Saxon and medieval town plan survives virtually complete, but the area of the Alfredian burh has largely lost its earlier settlement pattern. Most later suburban development has taken place outside the historic core to the east of the town.
The good survival of the historic town structure is complemented by the large quantity of historic buildings. The existence of many unbroken groups of historic buildings, with little disruption from modern development, is a major factor which highlights the contribution made by historic elements to Shaftesbury's urban character. The harmonious use of local building materials helps underscore its local setting and emphasises the linkage with the surrounding landscape.
The landscape and topographic setting of the town is fundamental to its character. In particular, the visual impact of Trinity Church above the town and the town above the Blackmore Vale.
Here is a summary (pdf, 202kb) (opens in a new window) . The full report (February 2011) is below. We would welcome your comments. Please send any feedback to the Senior Archaeologist (Promotion and Liaison).