The Last Earl of Hallamshire: Legend, landscape and identity in South Yorkshire

CLARKE, David (2021). The Last Earl of Hallamshire: Legend, landscape and identity in South Yorkshire. In: CHEESEMAN, Matthew and HART, Carina, (eds.) Folklore and Nation in Britain and Ireland. Routledge Studies in Cultural History . New York, Routledge, 63-77.

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    Following the establishment of folklore as a concept and discipline in the nineteenth century, the idea of the region, as opposed to the nation, emerged as the dominant geography of scholarly discourse. This chapter examines how regional identity was established in Hallamshire, a district within the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, which forms much of the Sheffield city region in present-day South Yorkshire. Today Hallam lives on in place names, including the university, the constituency and other modern institutions, and its legends and folklore have become part of its intangible cultural heritage. The folklore of Hallamshire was constructed upon the stories of two folk heroes: Waltheof—the last Saxon Earl—and Robin Hood, whose birthplace was recorded in a seventeenth-century document at Loxley, within the city boundary. Both were portrayed, in Victorian and more recent antiquarian literature, as Anglo-Saxon heroes who resisted conquerors. They continue to function as symbols of the radical spirit of the region in the form of Saxon against Norman and, in more recent history, north against south. The manipulation and, in some cases, outright invention of folklore as resistance against national authority led King George III to refer to Sheffield as ‘a damned bad place.’

    Item Type: Book Section
    Identification Number:
    Page Range: 63-77
    SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
    Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
    Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2020 15:54
    Last Modified: 26 Oct 2021 09:45

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