Sheffield Castle
Sheffield Castle was a castle in Sheffield, England, constructed at the confluence of the River Sheaf and the River Don, possibly on the site of a former Anglo-Saxon long house, and dominating the early town. The remaining stone foundations date from a stone castle begun in 1270.

Early history
The site of Sheffield castle, at the confluence of the rivers Don and Sheaf, is the place where the earliest settlement at Sheffield was founded sometime in the second half of the 1st millennium AD. The Domesday Book of 1086 states that, prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria had an aula (hall) in the manor of Hallam. In the same entry, it is reported that the manor of Sheffield—which had previously been part of Hallam—was under the Lordship of Sweyn at the time of the conquest. It has been speculated that Waltheof's aula or Sweyn's stronghold may have been at this site, and excavations between 1927 and 1930 were claimed to have uncovered evidence of a Saxon structure. However, the earliest known reference to a castle at Sheffield is a return made by Ralph Murdac, sheriff of Derbyshire, concerning the wardship of Maud de Lovetot, dating from around 1188. It is thought that this castle was a wooden motte and bailey type, built for William de Lovetot in the early twelfth century. This castle, along with much of the town, was destroyed in 1266 during the Second Barons' War when a party of barons, led by John de Eyvill, marching from north Lincolnshire to Derbyshire passed through Sheffield and destroyed the town, burning the church and castle.

Thomas de Furnival's castle
In 1270 Thomas de Furnival obtained a charter from King Henry III to build a castle at Sheffield. Thomas died soon after the castle was completed and was buried in the castle. In 1707 a report was published stating that, when the castle was demolished in 1648, a large flat stone was found engraved I Lord Furnival; I built this castle-hall; And under this wall; Within this tomb was my burial. De Furnival's castle was built of stone, and extended from the river Sheaf to Waingate and from the river Don to Dixon Lane, an area of about 4.2 acres (17,000 m 2; 180,000 sq ft). A 2,461-acre (9.96 km 2; 3.845 sq mi) park was attached to the castle, it extended from the castle to Gleadless to the south and Handsworth to the east. In 1516, George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury built the alternative residence of Sheffield Manor in the park.

Destruction of the castle
At the start of the English Civil War in 1642 the castle was seized by Sir John Gell for the Parliamentarians. In April 1643, Royalist forces led by the earl of Newcastle entered Yorkshire and took Leeds, Wakefield, and Rotherham before approaching Sheffield. The Parliamentary defenders of Sheffield castle fled into Derbyshire allowing the Royalists to take the castle without a fight. Newcastle left a garrison at the castle, under the control of Sir William Savile, as recounted by Margaret Cavendish, Newcastle's wife: Sir William Savile left Sheffield and the castle under the control of his deputy, Major Thomas Beaumont, who held Sheffield until August 1644 when the Earl of Manchester sent Major-General Crawford and Colonel Pickering, a force of 1200 soldiers to recapture Sheffield for the Parliamentarians. At first the castle resisted, and finding their artillery—the largest of which was a demi-culverin—was insufficient to breach the castle wall, General Crawford sent a letter to Lord Fairfax for a demi-cannon ( the Queen's pocket-pistoll) and a whole culverin. These extra cannon were able to breach the castle wall, after which terms for the surrender of the castle were agreed: Lady Savile (mentioned in this agreement) was the widow of Sir William Savile. She was pregnant at the time of the siege, and went into labour the night after the castle was surrendered. Following the siege Colonel John Bright of Carbrook Hall was left as governor of the castle. He was soon appointed governor of the city of York, and so left Captain Edward Gill in charge of Sheffield. On 30 April 1646 the House of Commons passed a resolution that Sheffield Castle should be made untenable, and on 13 July 1647 a resolution was passed for the castle to be demolished. Despite considerable demolition work, in 1649 the Earl of Arundel repurchased Sheffield castle with the intention of restoring it, however the damage was too great and no restoration work was ever started

Archaeological investigations and remains
An excavation led by Leslie Armstrong in 1927, prior to the construction of the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Society store, uncovered the base of one of the gateway bastion towers, as well as part of the gateway itself. These remains of the castle are preserved under the city's Castle Market: they are Grade II listed and are open for viewing. The visible remains are situated in two rooms below Castle Market. One room is open to the public, pending booking of a tour, the other room is walled and the only access is via a manhole in the market's food court. Due to the precarious access down a narrow tunnel, tours are no longer conducted in the main room though the second room is accessible . The remaining ruins, approximately 32 feet above the River Don, are those of one of the gate towers, they represent a quarter of the Eastern tower. More recent excavations in 1999 and 2001 by ARCUS, Sheffield University's archaeological research and consultancy unit, revealed the castle to have been much larger than previously was thought: among the largest medieval castles in England . Drilling was done in the upper food court delivery yard and flag stones left in situ to mark boundaries of the castle.

References and notes

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings removed a media and updated 14 media
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator