Ashmore village pond
|OS grid reference|
|• London||116 mi (187 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Dorset and Wiltshire|
The village is centred on a circular pond and has a church and several stone cottages and farms, many with thatched roofs. It is the highest village in the county with the 220-metre (720-foot) contour passing close to the village church (although the north side of the town of Shaftesbury, Dorset, is slightly higher at 232 m or 761 ft).
The pond or "mere" gave the village its original name of "Ash-mere".
Three round barrows have been found in the parish: two barrows south of the village near Well Bottom, and one west of the village near the boundary with the village of Fontmell Magna; this latter barrow was excavated in the 19th century and bones were recovered. Ashmore may have been the site of a Neolithic market place or settlement.
The Roman road from Bath to Badbury Rings passes through the east of the parish. The situation of the village is similar to Romano-British sites in the area, and there may have been a military camp and trading post in the area. It is possible that Ashmore may have been a Romano-British village that has been occupied without a break up to the present day; the parish church is sited West of the pond towards the edge of the village, which could indicate that the village pre-dated the church and Christianity.
In 1086 Ashmore was recorded in the Domesday Book as "Aisemare"; it had 24 households, 7 ploughlands and 10 acres (4 hectares) of meadow. It was in Cranborne Hundred and had a value of £15 to the lord of the manor, who was King William.
Until 1859 Ashmore had an open field system; the three fields—North Field to the north, and Sandpit Fields and Broadridge to the south—were roughly equal in size and covered an area of 380 acres (150 ha). At the same time there was also a considerable area of enclosed fields, covering 240 acres (97 ha) in 1590.
Ashmore parish is situated on the hills of Cranborne Chase 4+1⁄2 mi (7 km) southeast of Shaftesbury and 7 mi (11 km) north of Blandford Forum. The underlying geology is chalk, overlain by clay-with-flints in the south and southeast. The village, which at 700 ft (210 m) above sea level is the highest in Dorset, is sited on a spur of land between dry valleys which drain south and southwest. All of Ashmore parish is within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Church and Chapel
The parish church of St. Nicholas is about 100 metres west of the village pond, west of High Street. Its chancel arch is said to date from the 13th century and it was rebuilt in 1874. On the opposite side of the High Street is a Wesleyan chapel which dates from 1855. 
In the first national census in 1891 the village had a population of 228.
In midsummer a celebration known as 'Filly Loo' (or 'Filleigh Loo') takes place around Ashmore pond, with a Green Man, country dancing, morris dancers and live music. The event's ancient origins are mysterious but may have pagan influences; theories include that it celebrated either the pond's constancy as a water supply, the summer solstice, or the end of the cultivated filbert (hazelnut) harvest. The meaning of the name 'Filly Loo' has also attracted more than one explanation, including that it is West Country dialect for 'uproar', a corruption of the French 'La Fille de l'Eau', ('maiden of the water'), or a corruption of 'Filbert Louis', a nickname of Louis Rideout, one of the historical instigators of the event. The event was revived in 1956 as a folk dance festival, and takes place on the Friday night nearest to Midsummer Day or the Feast of St. John the Baptist.
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