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Title: Hallamshire  
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Subject: Church of St. Mary, Ecclesfield, River Rivelin, Low Bradfield, Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, History of Sheffield
Collection: History of Sheffield, Liberties of England, Northumbria
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Map showing the approximate area of Hallamshire as described in the 14th century (red shaded area) overlaid on a map of the modern ceremonial county of South Yorkshire.

Hallamshire (or Hallam) is the historical name for an area of South Yorkshire, England, in the current city of Sheffield.

The origin of the name is uncertain. The English Place-Name Society describe "Hallam" originating from a formation meaning "on the rocks". Alternative theories are that it is derived from halgh meaning an area of land at a border,[1] Old Norse hallr meaning a slope or hill, or Old English heall meaning a hall or mansion.[2]

The exact boundaries of this historic district are unknown, but it is thought to have covered the parishes of Sheffield, Ecclesfield, and Bradfield—an area roughly equivalent to those parts of the present-day borough of the City of Sheffield that lie to the west of the rivers Don and Sheaf that are within the boundaries of the ancient county of Yorkshire (later descriptions also include Brightside and the parish of Handsworth).[3]


  • History 1
    • Pre-conquest Hallamshire 1.1
    • After the Conquest 1.2
    • Modern Hallam 1.3
  • Connection to Robin Hood legend 2
  • See also 3
  • References and notes 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6


Pre-conquest Hallamshire

Hallamshire is located in Sheffield
Hallam Head
Sheffield Castle
Rivelin Valley
Sites proposed as the location for Waltheof's aula shown within Sheffield

In Anglo-Saxon times, Hallamshire was the most southerly of the "small shires" or regiones of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Its southern border with Mercia was already fixed and may have Celtic origins.

The mother church of Hallamshire lay five miles north of Sheffield at Ecclesfield, whose placename includes the Common Brittonic or primitive Welsh root *eglẽs meaning "church",[4] suggesting that Hallamshire has even earlier roots and must have existed as a territorial unit at the time of the area's first conversion to Christianity during the Romano-British period.[5]

The Domesday Book states that the manor of Hallam ("Hallun") included sixteen hamlets or settlements and had existed before the 1066 Norman conquest of England as part of the lands owned by Waltheof, the Earl of Huntingdon, who had an aula or hall located in this district. One possible location for Waltheof's aula and the surrounding settlement is Sheffield Castle. The Domesday book states that the manor of Sheffield had once been inland of the manor of Hallam—that is, land reserved for the Lord of the manor. This has led to the suggestion that the Sheffield of the Domesday book only encompassed the area that later became known as Sheffield Park, the historic town and castle being in Hallam.[6][7] Indeed, an early 20th-century excavation at the site of Sheffield Castle found evidence of an Anglo-Saxon building on the site.[8] However, a number of alternate sites have been suggested in and around the Rivelin valley.[9]

Local historian T. Walter Hall (in 1931[10]), following Sidney Addy (1893[11]), suggested that the district's original settlement was at Hallam Head, above the River Rivelin, and that it had been destroyed during the Harrying of the North. As evidence, he noted that the location lies by the ancient Long Causeway route and that the name of the neighbouring Burnt Stones Common referenced its destruction. This theory is rejected by David Hey, who notes that there is no evidence of any settlement larger than a hamlet ever having existed at the site, and that evidence suggests that the Harrying of the North did not affect the Sheffield area.[1] Addy himself preferred a location just outside the village of Stannington, where there is evidence of a large manor house surrounded by a moat.[12]

After the Conquest

Waltheof initially submitted to William I and was allowed to keep his lands. He took part in a failed uprising to support the 1069 invasion by Sweyn II of Denmark and Edgar Ætheling (including an attack on York), but then once again submitted to the William and was married to Judith of Lens, the King's niece. However, after taking part in a conspiracy against William in 1075 Waltheof was executed.

Initially, Judith retained his lands (including Hallamshire), but after Judith refused a second marriage to the Norman knight Simon Saint Liz, William confiscated much of her lands and handed them to her eldest daughter Maud, who then married Saint Liz in Judith's stead. After the death of Saint Liz, Maud married David, the heir to the crown of Scotland, and Waltheof's lands and Earldom were passed to him.

It is possible that Hallamshire was exempted from this transfer and remained in Judith's hands. The Domesday book states that the manor of Hallam was held by Roger de Busli "of the Countess Judith". The exact nature of the arrangement between Judith and de Busli is unknown, however there is evidence that such an arrangement may have continued for a number of centuries—an inquisition following the death of Thomas de Furnival in 1332 found that his ancestors had held the manor of Sheffield "of the King of Scotland", paying a yearly service of two white greyhounds.

The earliest known use of the term Hallamshire—"Halumsire"—is found in a deed of the house of Saint Wandrille in Ecclesfield dating from 1161.[13] Historically, the term shire would simply mean the district appropriated to some city, town, or castle, and did not necessarily refer to a county. Hallamshire could therefore be assumed to be the district associated with a town ("vill") called "Hallam", although there is no known record of such a town's existence.[14]

During this early period, the name Hallamshire was retained for the Norman lordship. It was administered from Sheffield Castle, at the confluence of the River Don and the River Sheaf. A smaller castle was built at High Bradfield.[1] During the 12th century, William de Lovetot acquired most of the land within the Sheffield area including the old manors of Hallam, Sheffield, and Attercliffe. He constructed a more substantial castle in Sheffield, establishing the town as the dominant settlement within Hallamshire. Sheffield gained a sizeable parish, split from the large parish of Ecclesfield, and a larger manor which encompassed most of Hallamshire. A charter of 1268 describes Hallamshire as containing just three manors: Ecclesfield, Sheffield and Bradfield. However, confusion arose later, as Sheffield acquired other manors outside historic Hallamshire, such as that of Handsworth.[1][3]

Hallamshire was included in official lists of the counties of England under Henry VIII in the 16th century.[15]

The territorial division of Hallamshire survived into the 19th century as a liberty, recorded in 1822 as including the parishes of Sheffield,[16] Treeton,[17] Whiston,[18] Rotherham,[19] Handsworth,[20] and Ecclesfield,[21] and with the Duke of Norfolk as Chief Bailiff.[22]

Modern Hallam

Hallam has come to mean, broadly speaking, that area of Yorkshire in the foothills of the Peak District and southwest of the River Don. The region includes much of western Sheffield, and the parish of Bradfield. Suburbs and villages within this area include Bradfield, Broomhill, Crookes, Fulwood, Hillsborough, Loxley, Stannington, Strines, and Walkley.

A number of institutions, companies, and public houses use the "Hallam/shire" name to reflect their association with the Sheffield area :

Connection to Robin Hood legend

The small village of Loxley, now a suburb of western Sheffield, lies within Hallamshire. A 1637 survey by John Harrison of the estates in or near Sheffield belonging to the Earl of Arundel states that a place called little Haggas croft in Loxley Firth contained "the foundacion of a house or cottage where Robin Hood was born".[25] Antiquarian Joseph Hunter—writing in 1819—reaffirmed this local tradition, stating that Loxley Chase has "the fairest pretensions to be the Locksley of our old ballads, where was born that redoubtable hero Robin Hood."[26] In many legends Robin Hood is said to have been a displaced son of the lord of Hallamshire, who at this period in history resided at his manor at Loxley. This also ties in with the traditional idea of Robin Hood being related to Scottish nobility, if not distantly, because the lords of Hallamshire were descendants of the early medieval kings of Scotland through the Earl of Huntingdon.

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c d David Hey, Historic Hallamshire
  2. ^ Goodall, Armitage C. (1913). "Hallam". Place-Names of South-West Yorkshire; that is, of so much of the West Riding as lies south of the Aire from Keighley onwards. Cambridge:  
  3. ^ a b See chapter I of Hunter (1819) for a discussion of the boundaries of Hallamshire.
  4. ^ Barrow 1973, p. 17.
  5. ^ Barrow 1973, p. 53.
  6. ^ Leader, John Daniel (1897). The Records of the Burgery of Sheffield. Sheffield: The Sheffield Independent Press, Limited. pp. xix–xxii. 
  7. ^ Charlesworth, F. "Hallun—Sheffield". Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society 5: 61. 
  8. ^ Accounts of the 1927–1930 (and more recent) archaeological investigations of Sheffield Castle can be found on the Sheffield Markets website and at the Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust archaeology website (both accessed 13 August 2005).
  9. ^ A discussion of possible locations of the aula can be found in chapter II of Hunter (1819)
  10. ^ Hall, T. Walter (1931). South Yorkshire historical sketches; the aula in Hallam, a seneschal of Hallamshire, Tickhill castle, Owlerton manor in Sheffield. Sheffield: J.W. Northend Ltd.  
  11. ^ Addy, The Hall of Waltheof, Chapter XXIII. "Ibi Habuit Wallef Comes Aulam"
  12. ^ Addy, The Hall of Waltheof, Chapter XXXV. The Stannington Diploma—The Stone Villa—The Hall
  13. ^ Transcribed in Hunter, Hallamshire, p. 28.
  14. ^ Hunter, Hallamshire, chapter 1
  15. ^ Gairdner, James; Brodie, R. H., eds. (1908). "Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 21 Part 1: January-August 1546". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 2014-10-26. 
  16. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 401.
  17. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 434.
  18. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 445.
  19. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 246.
  20. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 302.
  21. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 276.
  22. ^ Langdale 1822, p. 464.
  23. ^ The Criminal Justice Administration Act (Commencement) Order 1962 (S.I.1962/791)
  24. ^
  25. ^ Quoted in Addy, A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighbourhood of Sheffield, p. lxxiii. Note that Addy believed this statement to be "a piece of popular fiction".
  26. ^ Hunter, Hallamshire, chapter 1, p. 3


  • (wikisource)  
  • (wikisource)  
  • Barrow, G. W. S. (2003) [1973]. "Pre-feudal Scotland: shires and thanes". The Kingdom of the Scots: Government, Church and Society from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 7–56.  
  • (wikisource)  
  • Langdale, Thomas (1822). A Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire. Northallerton: J. Langdale. Retrieved 2014-09-20. 

External links

  • Hallamshire - a note on its meaning and extent Produced by Sheffield City Council's Libraries and Archives.
  • Hallam in the Domesday Book
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