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Earl Waltheof, the last Anglo-Saxon Lord of Hallamshire is recorded in Domesday Book as having a hall in Hallamshire. This may have been at the confluence of the Sheaf and Don on the same site as the later castle.
Excavations carried out at the castle site in 1927-29 gave evidence of a substantial wooden building, of late Anglo -Saxon type, which had been destroyed by fire. These remains were found below the foundations of the later castle. The excavations also showed that the site was unoccupied for a time after the Norman Conquest.
William de Lovetot became Lord of the Manor of Hallam in 1116 AD as a tenant of Roger de Busli who had a castle at Tickhill. William is probably the lord who had the first Sheffield Castle built on the site. This original castle was of the typical motte and bailey type, built mainly of wood with just a few stone features. The Sheaf and the larger Don formed the north and east part of the moat which was extended around the other two sides of the castle to create a secure position.
In 1266, during the Barons’ War, William de Lovetot’s castle was destroyed when John D’Eyvill , one of the leaders of the Barons’ revolt attacked Sheffield.
Four years later, Thomas de Furnival, who had inherited the de Lovetot Sheffield estate, was rewarded by the King for his loyalty by being allowed to rebuild the castle. He was given permission to make a strong stone castle at his manor of Sheffield.
At the beginning of the Civil War in 1642, Sheffield supported Cromwell. John Gell, a Parliament General, marched from Derbyshire and took possession of Sheffield Castle. John Bright, the local military chief rushed off to join Sir Thomas Fairfax.
In 1643, the Earl of Newcastle moved south with Royalist troops. There was no-one to rally the Sheffield troops and they fled the town leaving the Earl free to take the town and its castle. Sir William Savile of Thornhill was made Governor of the castle but he was soon recalled to York. Major Thomas Beaumont was left in charge.
After the defeat of the Kings Troops at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, Colonel John Bright set about re-taking Sheffield Castle for the Parliamentarians. The townspeople joined in and encircled the castle.
“All degrees and sexes with cheerfulness cut sods and brought them to make the batterye cross the street within forty yeardes of the castle.”
The governor surrendered to John Bright and Bright was made the new governor.
Parliament was worried that the castles might become a rallying point for supporters of the monarchy. On April 30th 1646 and again in July 1647, orders were given by Parliament, for the destruction of Sheffield Castle.
The demolition was carried out in 1648.
ARCUS Survey Report
in 2009, ARCUS (the Archaeological Research and Consultancy Unit based in the Archaeology Department at the University of Sheffield) carried out a desk-based survey of Sheffield Castle, looking at published and un-published archive material. Their report (No. 669b) is available on the Friends of Sheffield Castle web site. It provides a very detailed history of the castle from pre-Roman to modern times.
Indicative maps of the layout of the castle have been superimposed on appropriate period maps to give an excellent idea of the location and orientation of the castle in relation to its surroundings.
The ARCUS report contains a detailed bibliography with a list of references, maps and documents which have been used to compile the history.
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Sheffield Castle by Red City Projects
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Friends of Sheffield Castle