Whirlow Farm dig has confirmed what has been known to a wide variety of historians and archaeologists for a long time that the area of Sheffield was historically the most important area in the history of Yorkshire and England. From before Roman times. Much of the concentration on the narrow period of 18th and 19th century has ignored Sheffield’s strategic importance.
It is no accident that the area has hillforts & many signs of Ironage settlement or before that of even earlier settlements. Sheffield was important place even before the discovery of metalworking, but the discovery of metalworking made the land around worth defending and fighting for. Sheffield became the heavily contested border between Roman and Brigantes, Mercia and Northumberland, Derbyshire and Yrokshire. England was born at the treaty made in Dore. William the Conqueror put his righthand man William de Busli in Charge. Time and time again Royalty placed their best men in Sheffield and nearby. Its no accident that a small place in Norton produced two Bishops. One chaplain to Henry V11 and the other defending Henry V111’s interests in the Welsh Marches. No accident that Mary Queen of Scots was sent to Sheffield or that one of England’s biggest castles was built here. The land was important and only the Royals best loyal supporters had lands here.
Sheffield was never a backwater. The Talbots as earlier had strong connections with the Royal Court. The Fifth Earl was in charge of Henry V111’s household, the sixth in charge of Mary Queen of Scots. Sheffield was always well informed at what was going on in the seats of power. Money from the nearby Lead mining funded much of the Elisabethan explorations. IT was only with the shift in the Talbot’s power and influence in the civil war that changed the Royal links.
That does not mean Sheffield lost its importance to English History more that it became the place for innovation both in manufacturing and in radical and religious thought, which to some extent still exists with Sheffield.
So why aren’t we celebrating Sheffield’s long history? Why are we looking at a short time in history where Sheffield developed its mass production of cutlery as if that was the heyday of Sheffield and that is all there is and ever was of Sheffield? Beats Me.