Prehistoric activity in the Darfield area is indicated by a variety of Iron Age enclosures and field systems that are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. During the Roman period, Darfield appears to have been the site of an extensive settlement that spanned both banks of the River Dearne and enclosures, field systems and coin hoards have been discovered throughout the area. Darfield’s former Roman name is unknown.
Early medieval activity in the area is indicated by place-name evidence. Recorded as ‘Dereuueld’ in the 1086 Domesday survey, Darfield derives its name from the Old English place-name elements ‘deor’ and ‘feld’ and means ‘open land frequented by deer’ (Smith 1961).
While the Domesday Survey did not record a church at Darfield, an 8th- to 9th-century cross shaft incorporated into the wall of All Saints Church suggests that the area had a church during the early medieval period. An 8th-century sculpture fragment from a possible grave slab also indicates settlement in the Darfield area during this period.
Much of Darfield was granted to the monks of Monk Bretton Priory in the later medieval period, before being confiscated by the Crown at the Dissolution in the 1530s. Two mills were recorded in the area during this period. Elements of medieval buildings survive within the fabric of several later structures in the Darfield area, including timber-framed houses, farm buildings and high status dwellings. Darfield sat within a predominantly agricultural landscape throughout the post-medieval period and its commons were enclosed in 1805.
The North Midland Railway opened at Darfield in 1840 and large-scale industrial activity developed subsequently with the opening of the Low Valley Clay Works. Many Darfield men were employed at Lundhill Colliery, Wombwell, at the time of an explosion at the mine that killed 189 men and boys in 1857. The Lundhill Colliery Memorial is situated in the All Saints churchyard. Following the opening of Darfield Main Colliery in 1861, Darfield itself was dominated by the mining industry until the mine closed in 1989.
Locations in the Dearne
All locations that are related to this content are as follows: