Press release: Byzant Ceremony

Town Hall, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 8LY

FROM:         Town Clerk
DATE:          21/06/2018
SUBJECT:    Byzant Ceremony

This year saw the return of the Byzant Ceremony in Shaftesbury. A huge thank you from all the organisers to everyone that got involved and dressed up and took part!

The ceremony that dates back to 1364, came about because Shaftesbury, a Hill Top Town, had no reliable water source. The Enmore Green wells at nearby Motcombe, were used to supply all water needed, in exchange various gifts were given to the owner of Enmore Green. Towns people would gather, making music and carrying gifts to present to the Lord of the Manor of Gillingham. These tributes given included a Calf’s head, seven silver pennies, penny loaves, a gallon of beer, a pair of gloves.

This year on Sunday May 13th alongside the Food Festival, this ancient tradition was recreated but with a modern twist. Not only was the value of clean water celebrated, but this year Reverend Mary Ridgwell used it to symbolically cleanse and bless key locations throughout Shaftesbury, including the Westminster Hospital and the beautiful open of space Castle Hill.

This was a great opportunity to learn about the history of Shaftesbury, many took part, getting dressed up in medieval costume to join the procession, it was enjoyed by all involved and ended with some traditional penny loaves and ‘Byzant’ beer!

There were seven ‘silver pennies’ to find around the town with a little history about Shaftesbury attached to each, providing the many visitors in Shaftesbury for the Food Festival the opportunity to learn about our fantastic Town.

If you are interested in becoming involved next year contact us at Shaftesbury Town Council, call us on 01747 852420 or email us, and ask us to add you our Byzant mailing list for any updates.


For further information contact Shaftesbury Town Council, Tel: 01747 852420 or email:

Photos courtesy of Step in Time