Gold Hill Museum
Gold Hill Museum
Behind the Town Hall at the top of picturesque Gold Hill is Shaftesbury's Gold Hill Museum (formerly the Town Museum), boasting displays of Shaftesbury's unique heritage. Included are examples of Dorset Buttons, made locally in the early 19th century, and a variety of regional agricultural implements such as billhooks, scythes, and Shepherd's crooks.

The museum is housed in a pair of traditional sandstone cottages, which are themselves part of the museum's local heritage collection. One of the cottages is known as the Priest's House and dates to the Middle Ages. A squint in the wall of the Priest's House looks directly into the neighbouring church of St Peter.

The other cottage dates to the 18th century and once served as a doss house for people attending the weekly market on Gold Hill.

Collection highlights include a wooden fire engine dating to 1744, and an even earlier 17th century set of Shaftesbury's own weights and measures. See 'The Byzant', a ceremonial mace used in an annual ceremonial progression to thank the Lord of the Manor of Motcombe for allowing Shaftesbury to use water from the well in Motcombe.

Each year the citizens of Shaftesbury would follow a mace bearer down to Motcombe to offer a calf's head, a pair of gloves, a purse of coins, and loaves of bread at the well.

Other interesting exhibits include Roman archaeological finds, Saxon artefacts, musical instruments used locally, ceramics, costumes, and a wealth of archival documents and photographs. Learn about local cottage industries, the story of Shaftesbury's market, local traditions and rural life. If it relates to the heritage of the Shaftesbury area, you'll find it here!

Behind the museum is a pretty cottage garden. The museum stands at the top of Gold Hill, a favourite with calendar and postcard photographers for its steep cobbled surface, views over Cranborne Chase, and pretty cottages that line the roadway.