Museum Collection


Local life and history are portrayed through artefacts, costume, photos, ceramics, tools, musical instruments, domestic items and the town’s first fire engine – a hand-drawn machine.

Dorset buttons, an important local cottage industry, feature in the domestic collection.

The Byzant is a reminder of an ancient and long-standing annual ceremony to honour the Lord of the Manor of Motcombe for allowing the hilltop town of Shaftesbury to use water from its springs in the village below. Each year Shaftesbury residents processed downhill with the Byzant to offer a calf’s head, a purse of coins, a pair of gloves and loaves of bread to the Lord. This was accompanied by ale and negus for the celebration which ensued. Finally, in the mid 1700s, the carefully accounted costs were judged too dear by the town council, and the ceremony ceased.

Gold Hill Museum actively collects items of local history. We are always pleased to hear from local people or those with past contacts in Shaftesbury who can furnish information and contacts to extend the records we already have.

About the collection

The museum will collect items from, or which have significant links to, and which can help tell the story of the town and the surrounding area (as defined by the Shaftesbury Schools catchments area):

Our area covers the following parishes in Dorset: Ashmore, Compton Abbas, Farnham, Fontmell Magna, Iwerne Minster, Melbury Abbas and Cann, Sutton Waldron,

The Orchards and Margaret Marsh.

Motcombe in Dorset overlaps with Gillingham Museum’s collecting area – items offered to the museum from this parish will be discussed with Gillingham Museum.

Our area also includes the following parishes in Wiltshire: Alvediston, Berwick St. John, Berwick St. Leonard, Donhead St. Andrew,

Donhead St. Mary, East Knoyle, Ebbesbourne Wake, Fonthill Bishop, Fonthill Gifford, Fovant, Sedgehill and Semley, Sutton Mandeville, Tisbury, Tollard Royal and West Tisbury.

The museum will also take into account the lack of space in the stores when considering offers to the collection.

A particular focus of future acquisitions will be photographic material including post-cards, old prints etc. of Shaftesbury and surrounding areas.

Gold Hill Museum - Shaftesbury Buttons
Shaftesbury Byzant