Hallamshire is an ancient name for Sheffield and the villages, hamlets and farmsteads in the surrounding countryside. It is a name that everyone knows, but very few know what it means, and where it was.
Let’s go back to the days before the County of York existed.
Hallamshire is first recorded by its full name in a charter of 1161, although it is thought to be much older. The Domesday Book of 1086 used the shortened version, though it was transcribed as Hallun.
The name Hallam is peculiar; it looks to have had a Frisian origin; and probably was derived from the great tribe of the Halling or Halsing. The lordship belonged to the Waltheof family for a considerable time before the Norman conquest; passed to a female heiress of that family in 1075; passed afterwards to the Earls of Northampton; had a seneschal in the time of Edward I; and then parts of it belonged to the Duke of Norfolk.
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, Old Norse hallr meaning a slope or hill, or Old English heall meaning a hall or mansion.
Hallamshire was the most southerly of the Northumbrian shires, for it shared a border with the kingdom of Mercia.
The extent of its boundary is unclear, but it would seem to have constituted the Saxon manor of Hallam, included the parish of Sheffield, together with the parish of Bradfield and the smaller Saxon manor of Attercliffe.
In later chronicles, Sheffield, Bradfield, Ecclesfield and Handsworth are included under the term.
In broader terms, Hallamshire probably covered much of the same area as does present day Sheffield.
Its legacy is still with us, with various uses of the name evident – Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Hallam University, Hallam FM, Diocese of Hallam, Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, Hallam F.C., Hallamshire Golf Club and Hallamshire Harriers, to name just a few.