Shepton Mallet was a Roman industrial town in the 4th century, and many significant archaeological finds have been discovered on the Fosse Way which passed through the town from the south coast to Lincoln. Its name originated in Saxon times when it was called 'Scaep Ton' (Sheep Farm), and later became an important wool-trading market town from the 15th to the 17th century.
In 1610, the oldest jail in the country was built and still housed prisoners until its closure in 2013. During the Napoleonic Wars French prisoners were held there, and during the last war the prison protected some of the nation's treasures, including the Domesday Book, a copy of the Magna Carta, and logs of Nelson's Flagship - HMS Victory.
Shepton Mallet's millennium project was to construct a traffic-free path on the Strawberry Line from Whitstone Road (A37) to the boundary of Mendip District Council car park and Collett Park. The aim now is to extend the path through the council car park and into the deep railway cutting under Cannards Grave Road to Station Road and Tesco shopping area.
Mendip District Council has agreed the construction of a path through the council car park, and Shepton Mallet Town Council has funded Sustrans to look into the feasibility of ramping down the cutting and constructing a suitable path to Station Road. Sustrans have now completed a topographic survey and will shortly produce a design for its consultation.
Longer term aspirations are to see connections on to the Bath & West Show Ground, the village of Evercreech and possibly along the former railway line to Mendip Vale.