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Although Shaftesbury (population 1990: 6,180) historically dates from Anglo-Saxon times, it may have been the Celtic Caer Palladur. Its first recorded appearance as a town is in the Burgal Hideage[?] . The borough was created by Alfred the Great in 880 as a defence in the struggle with the Danish invaders.. The foundation of the Shaftesbury Abbey[?] in 888 was a spur to the growing importance of the town and Athelstan founded three mints. King Canute died here in 1035. In the Domesday Book the town was known as Scaepterbyrg its ownership being equally shared between King and Abbey. The Abbey was in the middle ages the central focus of the town. The shrine of St Edward[?] attracted pilgrims from afar. In 1260 a charter to hold a market was granted. In 1392 Richard II confirmed a grant of two markets on different days. Shaftesbury was a parliamentary constituency[?] returning two members from 1296 to the Reform Act of 1832, when it was reduced to one, and in 1884 the separate constituency was abolished. The town was broadly parliamentarian in the Civil War, but was in royalist hands. Wardour Castle fell to Parliamentary forces in 1643; Parliamentary forces surrounded the town in August 1645 and it was a centre of Clubmen[?] activity. Shaftesbury took no part in the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. The major employers in the 18th and 19th centuries were buttonmaking and weaving. The former became a victim of mechanisation, and this caused unemployment and emigration. The number of turnpikes which met at Shaftesbury ensured that the town had a good coaching trade. The railways, however, bypassed Shaftesbury, and this infuenced the sunsequent pattern of its growth. It is the Shaston of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.

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