The area was once part of the lands of the Cornovii, which consisted of the modern day counties of Cheshire, Shropshire, north Staffordshire, north Herefordshire and eastern parts of Powys. This was a tribal Celtic iron age kingdom. Their capital in pre-Roman times was probably a hill fort on The Wrekin. Ptolemy's 2nd century Geography names one of their towns as being Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter), which became their capital under Roman rule and one of the largest settlements in Britain. After the Roman occupation of Britain ended in the 5th century, the Shropshire area was in the eastern part of the Welsh Kingdom of Powys; known in Welsh poetry as the Paradise of Powys. It was annexed to the Saxon kingdom of Mercia by King Offa in the eighth century, at which time he built two significant dykes there to defend his territory against the Welsh or at least demarcate it. In subsequent centuries, the area suffered repeated Danish invasion, and fortresses were built at Bridgnorth and Chirbury.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, major estates in Shropshire were granted to Normans, including Roger de Montgomerie, who ordered significant constructions, particularly in Shrewsbury, the town of which he was Earl. Many defensive castles were built at this time across the county to defend against the Welsh and enable effective control of the region, including Ludlow Castle and Shrewsbury Castle. The western frontier with Wales was not finally determined until the 14th Century. Also in this period, a number of religious foundations were formed, the county largely falling at this time under the diocese of Hereford and that of Coventry and Lichfield. Some areas in later times fell under the diocese of St. Asaph until it ceased to exist in 1920.

The county was a central part of the Welsh Marches during the medieval period and was often embroiled in the power struggles between powerful Marcher Lords, the Earls of March and successive monarchs.

The county also contains a number of historically significant towns, including Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Oswestry. Additionally, the area around Coalbrookdale in the county is seen as highly significant, as it is regarded as one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution. The village of Edgmond, near Newport, is the location of the lowest recorded temperature (in terms of weather) in England and Wales.

The origin of the name "Shropshire" is the Old English "Scrobbesbyrigscīr" (literally Shrewsburyshire).

Salop is an old abbreviation for Shropshire, sometimes used on envelopes or telegrams, and comes from the Anglo-French "Salopesberia". It is normally replaced by the more contemporary "Shrops" although Shropshire residents are still referred to as "Salopians".

When a county council for the county was first established in 1888, it was called Salop County Council. Following the Local Government Act 1972, Salop became the official name of the county, but a campaign led by a local councillor, John Kenyon, succeeded in having both the county and council renamed as Shropshire in 1980.

The border with Wales was defined in the 16th century – the hundreds of Oswestry (including Oswestry) and Pimhill (including Wem), and part of Chirbury had prior to the Laws in Wales Act formed various Lordships in the Welsh Marches.

The present day ceremonial county boundary is almost the same as the historic one. Notably there has been the removal of several exclaves and enclaves. The largest of the exclaves was Halesowen, which became part of Worcestershire in 1844 (now part of the West Midlands county), and the largest of the enclaves was Herefordshire's Farlow in South Shropshire, also transferred in 1844, to Shropshire. Alterations have been made on Shropshire's border with all neighbouring English counties over the centuries. Gains have been made to the south of Ludlow (from Herefordshire), to the north of Shifnal (from Staffordshire) and to the north (from Cheshire) and south (from Staffordshire) of Market Drayton. The county has lost land in two places – to Staffordshire and Worcestershire.

Transcribed from: