English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.

Shaftesbury

Major Settlement in the Parish of Shaftesbury

Historical Forms

  • Shafton(e) 833 BCS410 14 860 Cl 15 Fine 1258,1262,1272 1417
  • Safton' 1260 Cl 1260 Ass
  • Schafton(a) 1268 1275 RH 1280 QW 1316 FF 1380 Cl
  • Scafton 1277 Banco
  • Shapton(') (sic) 1288 Ass 1313 Cl
  • in to Sceaftesburi, on Sceaftesburi, æt Sceaftesburi, at Sceaftesburi 871–7 ShaftR(S357(1)) 15 956 14 ib
  • Sceaftesbyrig c.950 CottCh(S1539,ASWillsNo3) 10 ASWillsNo10 971–83 ASC 14 FW 982 ASC m11 e12 1036 12
  • Sceaftesberi 958 ShaftR(S655) 15
  • Sceaftesbyri 1035 ASC 11
  • Sceaftesbirig c.1000 Saints
  • Scea(f)(t)(e) 979–1065 Coins
  • Sceafi, Ceai 1066 Coins
  • Sceafstesbyrig 12 SD
  • Sheftesbury 871–7 ShaftR(S357(1)) 15 Pat 1089(1371),1447
  • Sheftesbyri 1535–43 Leland
  • Sceftesburg 893 Asser e11 SD 12
  • Sceftesbirio 1001 ShaftR 14
  • Sceftesbyrig c.1000 Saints 1035 ASC m11
  • Sceftesberie 1086 DB
  • Sceftesberia Hy1 ShaftR 15
  • Sceftesbiry 1155 RBE
  • S(c)e(f)(t)(e)(s)(b)(r)(i) 928–1134 Coins
  • Ceft(esbi) 985–1037 Coins
  • Aeseftes(b), Eftes, Scect, Seftcs, Sceveti 1017–62 Coins
  • Scheftesberia Hy2 ShaftR 15
  • Scheftesbiry 1275 Ext
  • Shetesbury (sic) Ed1 Shaft c.1407
  • Seftesbir' 1280 AD
  • Sheftisbury 1430 Pat
  • Sheftysbury 1431 FA
  • Schaftesbiry 932 ShaftR(S419) 15
  • at Schaftesbiri 935 15 Ass 1244
  • Schaftesbury 966 ShaftR(S744) 15 Pat 1302 Sher 1356
  • Schaftesburi 983 ShaftR(S850) 15
  • Schaftesbir' 1194–1230 P 1244 Ass
  • Schaftesberia 1197 P
  • Schaftesber' 1280 Ass
  • Schaftesbery(e) 1356 Sher 1535–43 Leland
  • Schaftesbyri 1535–43 ib
  • Shaftesbury 942 ShaftR(S485(1)) 15 956 14 958 Pat 15 Lib Hy1 15 1242 1243
  • Shaftesberia 1155 PR 1159 P
  • Shaftesburi John ShaftR 15
  • Shaftesbiry 1223,1246 Pat
  • Shaftesbir' 1238–66 Cl 1246 Lib
  • Shaftesbur' 1242,1253 Cl
  • Shaftesbyr' 1249 FF
  • Shaftesbiri 1252 Ch
  • Shaftesber(') 1252 FF 1280 Ass
  • Shaftesbyry 1258 Pat 1535–43 Leland
  • S(c)haftysbury(e) 951–5 BCS913 14 Marten 1417 Pat 1437 AD 1547
  • Septoniam quæ est S(c)haftysbyrye e15 LHyda
  • (at) Scaftesberi(a) 958 ShaftR(S655) 15 P 1197–1212
  • Scaftesbir' 1195–1214 P 1196 ChancR
  • Saftesbur' 1194 Cur 1242 Cl 1243 Lib 1253 Cl
  • Saftesberi 1201 Cur
  • Saftesbir(') 1205 ChancR 1239 FF 1243 Lib
  • Saftesbury 1253 Pat
  • Saftisbur' 1194 Cur
  • Shaftisbyr' 1280 FF
  • Shaftisbry 1325–50 GoughMap
  • Shaftisbury 1402–1506 Pat 1548 Weld1
  • Shafesbury (sic) 1291 Pat
  • urbem Septoniæ, quod est Schaftisbiri e15 LHyda
  • Caft 979–85 Coins
  • Safti, Sa(f)(r), Sactt, Scaf, Saft(e) 1074–1150 Coins
  • (to) Sceafnesbirig 951–5 BCS912 14
  • to sceaftenes byrig 1015 StoweCh(S1503(1),ASWillsNo20) e11
  • to Scæftenesbyrig 1015 ASWillsNo20MSb(S1503(2)) e11
  • monast' Septoniæ 951–5 BCS914 14
  • (ad) Sceftoniam 980 ASC e12 SD 12
  • Scestoniæ ib
  • Seftonia 1245 FF
  • Seftonie 1285 FA
  • Sc(h)ephtonia, Sc(h)ephtonie Ed1 Shaft c.1407
  • S(c)heftonia, S(c)heftonie 1285,1303 FA 1433 Salis 1474 Wim
  • Septoniam quæ est Schaftysbyrye, urbem Septoniæ quod est Schaftisbiri e15 LHyda
  • Scæftesbyrig c.1000 Saints
  • (to) Scæftes byrig 980 ASC 12
  • Scaef(t) 991–7 Coins
  • (to) soraflesbyring (sic) c.1025 BurgHid c.1310
  • Septesberia Wm1 ShaftR 15
  • Sceptesberie 1086 DB
  • Shaptesbur' Hy3 Pat 1371
  • Sancti Edwardi 1086 Exon
  • uillata Sancti Ædwardi 1194 P
  • burgo Sancti Edwardi, villa Sancti Edwardi 1199–1210 1204,1214 Cur 1244 Ass
  • (libero) burgo de Sancto Edwardo 1212 Fees 1244 Ass 15 ShaftR
  • Sanctum Edwardum 1218 Pat
  • loco Sancti Edwardi 1245 FF
  • Edwardistowe e15 LHyda
  • Sy(e)ftebury Hy1 ShaftR 15
  • Siaftesberi 1213 Cur
  • Syeftebir' 1230 ChancR
  • Scyaftesbir' 1244 Ass
  • Shiefi 1074–7 Coins
  • Sci(e)(f)(t)(i), Sieft(si), Siei, Scifiti, Siecf 1077–86 Coins
  • Schaftebir' 1200,1205 P 1230 ChancR
  • Scaftebir' 1211 ChancR
  • Scaftebiry 1265 Pat
  • Shafteburi 1216 Pat
  • Shaftebur' 1216–72 Pat 1371 Cl 1242–55 Ass 1268
  • Shaftebury 1242 Cl c.1407 Shaft
  • Shaftebiry 1243–80 Pat 1280 Fine
  • Shaftebery 1252 FF
  • Shaftebir' 1254 1259–64 Cl 1268,1280 Ass
  • Shaftebyry 1255 Pat
  • Shaftebyr' 1263 FF 1268 Ass
  • Saftebir 1218 FF
  • Schafftebir' 1275 RH
  • Scheftebir(e) 1220 CottCh 1230 P 1280 QW
  • Scheftebyr(e) 1268 Ass
  • Scheftebyry 1280 QW
  • Scheftbyr' 1268 Ass
  • Sheftebury 1288 Pat 1308 FF 1338 Cl
  • Shefte (sic) 1373 ib
  • Shefton', Sephton', Sepfton' 1259 Cl
  • S(c)hefton' 1260 FF 1261 Cl 1268 Ass 1346 Ipm
  • Scefton 1277 Banco
  • Sefton 1293 Ipm
  • S(c)haston(') 1260 Cl 1275 RH 1288 Ass 1650 ParlSurv
  • Scheston 1275 RH
  • (ad) Shaftoniam 1280 QW
  • S(c)haftonie, S(c)haftonia 1303 FA 1310 Pat 1316,1428 FA c.1500 Eg
  • Shastbury 1391 Pat
  • Shastesbury 1432 Wim
  • Shastesburry 1650 ParlSurv
  • Shasberrye e17 ShaftMR
  • Shasbur(r)y 1650 ParlSurv 1651 KCC

Etymology

Probably 'Sceaft's fortified place', from an OE  pers.n. Sceaft (cf. Sceaftes hangra 909 (12) BCS 629 (Ha)) and burh (dat.sg. byrig ). Some of the early spellings (Sceaf (t )enes -, etc) suggest alternation of the pers.n. Sceaft either with a pers.n. *Sceaften (< *Sceaftīn ), a hypocoristic form of Sceaft , as suggested by Ekwall (Studies1 12, DEPN), or with a reduced form of the pers.n. Sceaftwine (cf. Sceftwine 704 (?8) BCS 111), thought possible by Tengstrand (NoB 19168).

The possibility that the first el. of Shaftesbury is the word sceaft 'shaft, pole', used either of some actual pole or figuratively of the steepsided, prominent hill on which the town stands, looks less likely but cannot entirely be ruled out. For this view, found as early as 1774 Hutch1 21, v. C.H. Mayo, DoNHAS 1537; Fägersten 32 cites Zachrisson's suggestion that sceaft may have had the meaning 'crag, protuberance' in English p.ns. evidenced for the cognate skaft in Scand p.ns. (EPP 8 n.3, cf. also Ekwall DEPN s.n. Shaftoe Nb) and that the alternative *sceaften in this name may result from the addition of a noun suffix. For a similarly ambiguous name, cf. Shaftsey Brk 81 (Sceaftesige 911–19 (later copy)).

The Latinized forms Sheftonia , Shaftonia are probably of post-Conquest origin and arise from the addition of -onia to the first part of the English name, on the analogy of Wintonia for Winchester, etc, cf. R.E. Zachrisson, Some Instances of Latin Influence on English Place -Nomenclature , Lund 1910, 11, 13. It is probable that Shafton ', Shefton ', etc represent a reduction of these Latinizations rather than an English formation in -tūn , since no Shaft (e )ston forms occur (note that -bury forms without medial -s - do not occur until the 12th cent.). However the form Shaston (still in use locally) may have resulted from a reduction of the consonant cluster -fts - to -s -, although it may be partly due to the misreading of f as long s . The forms Shast (es )bury , etc are probably to be similarly explained. Early forms in Shept -, Shapt - are palaeographical errors due no doubt to the practice of writing f as ph .

The allusion in 'town/place of St Edward' is to Edward the Martyr, whose remains were transferred here from Wareham and buried in the abbey, v. Abbey Ho infra ; Edwardistowe contains stōw '(holy) place'.

Shaftesbury is referred to by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1138, Historia Regum Britanniae ) as oppidum (montis ) Paladur quod nunc Sephtesberia dicitur , oppidum (montis ) Paladur quod nunc S (c )ephtonia dicitur , this being echoed by later chroniclers such as Holinshed (mount Paladour now called Shaftsburie , 1577, Holinshed 's Chronicles , 1 446). It is fairly certain that Geoffrey's oppidum Paladur is simply a translation of the English name, based on his interpretation of it as 'fort of the shaft' (cf. Welsh paladr 'shaft'), and is thus an interesting example of early antiquarian etymologizing and invention, v. Hutch3 31–2, R.E. Zachrisson, Romans , Kelts and Saxons in Ancient Britain , Uppsala 1927, 55 fn. 1, J.S.P. Tatlock, The Legendary History of Britain , 1950, 43–4.

Places in the same Parish

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