Sheffield is one of the largest cities in England outside of London, and made its name mostly due to steel manufacturing. Early settlers included Celts, who had a fort at nearby Wincobank, and other villages in the area. Eventually, the region was taken over by Anglo-Saxon invaders, and lay on the northern boundary of the kingdom of Northumbria. Immediately to the north lay the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Sheffield may have derived its name from the Sheaf river, which means "boundary."

    During Medieval times a castle, now gone, was built in Sheffield. It was home to the Earls of Shrewsbury, and at one point Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there. Also built in Medieval times was Sheffield Cathedral, which still stands today.

    Sheffield has been known for its steel production since at least the time of Chaucer, who mentions that the city produces fine knives in his "Canterbury Tales." There is considerable iron ore in the area, and steel has been exported from the region since the 18th century. In the 1850s, a process known as the Bessemer Process improved the quality of steel, and in 1903 stainless steel was pioneered in Sheffield.

    During World War II, the city was a center of steel production for the war, and a frequent target for bombing raids, which caused the loss of hundreds of lives.

    The latter half of the 20th century saw the closure of many of the steel mills and the loss of many jobs. Many public improvement projects have attempted to reverse this decline, such as the Heart of the City Project.