Badbury Rings, about one mile from Shapwick, is a massive British fort, one of the oldest prehistoric forts, sitting atop a low summit yet with commanding views in all directions, with sightings possible of the Isle of Wight, Isle of Purbeck, the Heights to the west and north and east of Dorchester, Pilsdon Pen, Bulbarrow and Win Green. Some say Badbury is King Arthur's Mount Badon!
Three "tumuli" stand guard over the modern entrance to Badbury, we always called these spooky mounds the "Three Kings".
The Romans built a road from Badbury Rings to Dorchester, crossing the River by a ford near where the Church stands. Recently, in the 1990s, evidence of a Roman Villa was uncovered in the field to the north of Queen Cottages at the north east end of the Village.
It is claimed the name "Shapwick" is derived from the Saxon name meaning "sheep village".
The Domesday Book has the Village as "Scapewic" in the "King's Land" and it had three mills.
The church seems to be the oldest building, some parts are distinctly Norman.
Much of the Village was destroyed by a Great Fire - as I understand it, the High Street was lined on both sides from the Cross to where the Shop stands today, and all but a few cottages at each end survived. More modern farm cottages stand on the west side today, but a field now extends to the roadside hedge on the other.
The Legend of the Shapwick Monster is described in most guides. for more on the Monster.
Visitors approaching Shapwick from the "top" Wimborne-Blandford road will not have failed to notice the fine Beech avenue that runs from the west gate of Kingston Lacy estate, westwards, to the top of the scarp overlooking the Tarrant valley, a good two miles or more. Legend has it that there are (or were) 365 trees on one side and 366 on the other, one for each day of the year (or leap year). We often set out to count them but gave up through losing count or simple boredom!
The population of Shapwick is probably at the lowest for centuries, due to changing farming practices.
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