South Yorkshire History


The county of South Yorkshire in the north of England has a rich and varied history that dates back to ancient times in many parts of the region. For example, there was a Celtic fortress located in Sheffield at Wincobank and other fortifications from that time at Dore and near Rotherham.

Much of the area was also influenced a lot by Anglo Saxon settlers. The site of Conisborough Castle near Rotherham and Doncaster, for example, is held to be sited on Anglo Saxon earth works. And, Barnsley, although primarily viewed as a Victorian town can trace its history back to the Anglo Saxons and has an entry in the Domesday Book.

The Romans also played a part in the history of the area with a fort located at Doncaster where it is thought they built up pottery and iron manufacturing processes. The town of Adwick-le-Street in the north is sited by a Roman road.

In medieval times Sheffield was the home to a castle and was a booming medieval town. Much of the work of this time was destroyed during the English Civil War although another castle and a large manor house was built in the city in later years. This castle and the manor house were used to house Mary Queen of Scots after her imprisonment by Elizabeth I. Barnsley also established itself as a market town in this age and was well known for its grammar school that was established in the 1600s.

Doncaster also became popular for its race course in the 18th century - this is the home of the famous St Leger race which began in 1778. This period saw a lot of growth in the town which can be seen in the Georgian buildings and architecture that is still dotted around the town and surrounding areas.

In recent times South Yorkshire built an impressive reputation for manufacturing and many of the towns in the area saw a huge surge in growth during the Industrial Revolution. Sheffield steel, for example, was long held to be the best in the world in the 19th century and the area has worked in steel manufacturing probably since the 14th century. Rotherham, on the other hand was well known as a production area for iron, brass and steel and Barnsley for its coal mining industry.

During the Second World War the area was often a target for enemy bombers given its manufacturing capabilities. Sheffield, for example, was used to make armaments so suffered heavy bombing. In 1974 the county of South Yorkshire was formally established which lasted until 1986.