Robin Hood’s Oak, Great Horkesley, Essex

Legendary Tree (lost):  OS Grid Reference –TL 96 28

Archaeology & History

In more than twenty volumes about Robin Hood in the Northern Antiquarian library, no mention can be found of this all-but-forgotten site, first recorded (I think) in September 1637, in the boundary perambulation account of northern Colchester.  In days of olde, folk walked the boundaries annually and so the description given here follows their very footsteps – although the landscape has obviously been altered in places since then.  Because of the length of the entire perambulation their account is rather long, so I’ve cut to the piece relating to our legendary oak tree, which gives a good idea of its location.  We meet up with them at a place called Motts-Bridge, just above a place that is today called Seven Arches Farm (TL 9630 2595):

“…and so over Mott’s-bridge, and so cross the river by Nicholas Ayleward’s howse into the meadowe crossinge over to the lower ende of West-fielde, and from thence to Buttolph’s brooke leavinge the Brooke alwais upon the left-hand, and so along to Thomas Abrige (which is righte against Robin Hood’s oake). And from thence to Black-brooke under Chesterwelle and so along the Rampiers by Horkesley Heathe to the brooke that is under Langham-park-corner…”

P.H. Reaney (1935) proposes that the ‘Rampiers’ in this account is the Iron Age hillfort of Pitchbury Ramparts.

The description of its whereabouts isn’t too clear, but in a subsequent and much longer perambulation account from August 1671, some extra topographical features are mentioned.  Starting not far from Mott’s Bridge, down Shett’s Hill to Newbridge,

“and then into the Fields in the occupation of Matth. Ayleward…through a gate a little above the Bridg: and soe along to Matth. Ayleward’s Yard, crosse the River into Matth. Ayleward’s Meadowe, and crosse that Meadowe into the lower part of Westfields, neare to which is a Foote-bridge cross the river, which is called Mott’s-bridge.  And soe along through West-fields to a Gate in a lane at or neere the north ende of a Meadow of one Mrs —, now in Samuel Duglet’s occupation, which lane parts West-fields from Bergholt, as the Parsons of each Parish, whoe were both present, affirmed; and, upon a Tree standing neere to which Gate is set a crosse.  And from thence to Butolph’s brooke, leaveing the brooke allwaies  upon the left-hand; and soe along through Mr Leming’s Meadows and Woods at the ende of them to a Bridge called Thomas Abridge, leading on to Horkesley Heath, which bridge is right against Robin Hood’s Oake, that stood on the pitch of the hill. And from thence along the Naylande Roade over Horkesley-heathe to Blackbrooke under Chesterwell, which Brooke runnes crosse the way at the foote of Horkesly cawsy…”

This second account seems to speak of the tree in the past tense, telling us that “Robin Hood’s Oake, that stood on the pitch of the hill”, but we can’t be completely sure.  I presume that there’s no longer any trace of this legendary oak tree; however, considering the fact that oaks can live to an incredible age, it may be worthwhile for a local antiquarian to follow this ancient boundary and see if, perchance, any remaining tree stump might still be there.  Y’ just never know…..

There are several other place-names in Essex relating to our mythical outlaw, including Robinhood End at Finchingfield described in 1699, and a farm of the same name nearby; plus a Robin Hood’s Inn near Loughton. (Reaney 1935)  There are probably a few more hiding away in field-name records…

NB:  The grid-reference map linked to this site is an approximation.  If someone can find the exact spot where the tree stood, we’ll update its position.   

References:

  1. Morant, Philip, The History and Antiquities of the Most Ancient Town and Borough of Colchester, W. Bowyer: London 1748.
  2. Reaney, P.H., The Place-Names of Essex, Cambridge University Press 1935.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  51.920339, 0.856044 Robin Hood\'s Oak

Robin Hood’s Well, Allerston High Moor, North Yorkshire

Site shown on 1854 map

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 8831 9559

Also Known as: 

  1. Robin Hood’s Spring

Archaeology & History

At present we have no information or images about this site. Be the first person to contribute material by emailing us with info or images to the usual address – megalithix@yandex.com

 

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  54.348215, -0.642916 Robin Hood\'s Well

Robin Hood & Little John, Castor, Northamptonshire

‘Standing Stones’:  OS Grid Reference — TL 1395 9839

Also Known as:

  1. St. Edmund’s Stones

Archaeology & History

1885 OS-map of the site

1885 OS-map of the site

A curious and intriguing site with as many questions about its nature as there is its folklore.  Moved around by the irritating parliamentarians from Huntingdonshire, to Northants to Cambridge nowadays, one wonders where those fools will place it next!  Listed by a number of archaeologists as prehistoric standing stones, it seems pretty obvious from photos and the descriptions of many amateur students that—unless some original monoliths have been reworked a few centuries back—the narrative given by local historian W.H.B. Saunders (1888) outlines their more probable origin and history.  That’s not to say that the stones aren’t old—just not that olde…. Mr Saunders reasoned that they were dug and transported from more than 5 miles northwest of their present spot, telling that:

“Nothing can rob the stones of their undoubted antiquity.  The Barnack quarries have been exhausted for the last 600 years at least.  It is evident therefore, that the stones were placed in their present position at a time when the Barnack quarries were being worked.  That would be in the days of Robin Hood, and also when the Abbey of St. Edmund’s Bury, built of Barnack stone, was being erected.”

His words make sense when you look at the stature of the monoliths in question.  They’re cut and squared to the edges, with Robin Hood being the taller of the two stones, about 30 feet southwest of the Little John stone.  They have been written about quite extensively by historians down the centuries, from William Camden onwards.  One early account of the stones was written by Symon Gunton (1686) who told:

“I find in the charter of King Edward the confessor…that the abbot of Ramsey should give to the abbot and convent of Peterburgh 4000 eeles in the time of Lent, and in consideration thereof the abbot of Peterburgh should give to the abbot of Ramsey as much freestone from his pitts in Bernack, and as much ragstone from his pitts in Peterburgh as he should need.

“Nor did the abbot of Peterburgh from these pits furnish only that but other abbies also, as that of St. Edmunds-Bury: in memory whereof there are two long stones yet standing upon a balk in Castor-field, near unto Gunwade ferry; which erroneous tradition hath given out to be draughts of arrows from Alwalton church-yard thither; the one of Robin Hood, and the other of Little John; but the truth is, they were set up for witnesses, that the carriages of stone from Bernack to Gunwade-ferry, to be conveyed to S. Edmunds-Bury, might pass that way without paying toll; and in some old terriars they are called St. Edmund’s stones.  These stones are nicked in their tops after the manner of arrows, probably enough in memory of S. Edmund, who was shot to death with arrows by the Danes.  The balk they stand upon is still call’d St Edmund’s Balk.  They are supposed to be the petrify’d arrows of those two famous archers.”

Thom's sketch showing his midwinter alignment

Thom’s sketch showing his midwinter alignment

These traditions have subsequently been copied by all local historians.  So it is something of a curiosity to find our archaeologists—from Clarke (1960) and F.M. Pryor (1972) to Aubrey Burl (1993)—to cite these as prehistoric monoliths.  My suspicions as to their reasons relates to the folklore of the stones which are echoed at many truly prehistoric places like the Devil’s Arrows, etc.  The nature of the tale is an aboriginal creation myth, relating to the formation of sites as understood in animistic mythic structures.  But this archaeological misunderstanding brought the more scientific mathematical mind of Alexander Thom (1990:1) here in the 1980s where coincidence showed a common astronomical alignment.  Thom wrote:

“Clearly visible from the site, at an azimuth of 229°.22 is the lowest point of a low saddle on the horizon.  The col, Fig.1 (above), subtends an arc of about 0°.67 of azimuth, observed minimum altitude 0°.21.  For an estimated temperature of 44°F, correction for refraction at sunset is about 0°.54, and for solar and semi-diameter and parallax of respectively 0°.27 and 0°.002, the ‘observed’ declination is found to be -23°.92, which indicates a date of about 1860 BC.

“No presently obvious horizon marker was evident upon inspection of the open fields forming the horizon, but this does not mean that a foresight was never erected.  Without the evidence of a foresight it cannot be claimed that the two stones were placed for accurate calendrical reasons, but undoubtedly they indicate by themselves the winter solstice.”

The folklore may indicate the possibility that these two medieval standing stones replaced earlier ones, but no remains of such relics exist today.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Clarke, R. Rainbird, East Anglia: Ancient Peoples and Places, Thames & Hudson: London 1960.
  3. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Northamptonshire, Cambridge University Press 1975.
  4. Grinsell, Leslie V., Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, David & Charles: London 1976.
  5. Gunton, Symon, The History of the Church of Peterburgh, Richard Chiswell: London 1686.
  6. Mee, Arthur, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, Hodder & Stoughton: London 1973.
  7. Morton, John, The Natural History of Northampton-shire; with Some Account of the Antiquities – 2 volumes, R. Knaplock: London 1712.
  8. Pryor, F.M., Prehistoric Man in the Nene Valley, Nene Valley Research: Peterborough 1972.
  9. Saunders, W.H.B., Legends and Traditions of Huntingdonshire, Simpkin Marshall: London 1888.
  10. Serjeantson, R.M. (ed.), The Victoria County History of Northamptonshire – volume 2, London 1906.
  11. Thom, Alexander, Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 1, BAR: Oxford 1990.
  12. Thom, A.S., “A Solstitial Site near Peterborough,” in Journal of the History of Astronomy, 11, 1980.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Robin Hood & Little John

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Robin Hood & Little John 52.571442, -0.319993 Robin Hood & Little John

Robin Hood & Little John Stones, Whitby, North Yorkshire

Standing Stones (destroyed?):  OS Grid Reference – NZ 9171 0952

Also Known as:

  1. Robin Hood’s Pillars

Archaeology & History

The 2 stones on 1853 map

The 2 stones on 1853 map

References to these old standing stones are scarce—at least in archaeology books anyway.  Even the usually diligent masters of Burl (1993) and Thom (1990) missed them!  But thankfully our folklorists and antiquarians with their keen interest in popular culture have written about these long lost monoliths, which could once be seen in fields just a mile or so south of Whitby town.

The earliest known account of the site is as the “Robyn-Hood-stone” in records dating from 1540 CE cited in the Cartularium Abbathiae de Whiteby (1881).  It was later described in land registers in 1713 and the fields in which they stood were—and still are—respectively known as Robin Hood’s Close and Little John’s Close.

These Whitby monoliths—like their namesakes in Northamptonshire— weren’t too big.  In Mr Young’s (1817) early description, when the stones were still visible, he told how Robin Hood’s stone was “a stone pillar about a foot square and four feet high”, and Little John’s Stone was “a similar pillar about two-and-a-half feet high.”  Mr J.C. Atkinson, the editor of the Cartularium (1881), also told that the two stones were “still in situ in the earlier part of the present century,” continuing:

“Both stones have now been removed, and are, I was informed, set up again near the enclosing fence of the field in which they stood. Almost beyond question , like the other monoliths of the district, they marked the site of ancient British interments.”

So—do the remains of these old stones still exist somewhere close by as J.C. Atkinson said, either in the walling, as a gatepost, or just pushed over and now covered in grass (like the long lost Thief Thorne standing stone near Addingham)?  Are any northern antiquarians living close by who might enable their rediscovery?

Folklore

A number of writers exploring the mythic histories of Robin Hood have included this site in their surveys, usually repeating the earlier creation myths about them that could be heard in popular culture.  The Whitby historian George Young (1817) told the tale:

“According to tradition, Robin Hood and his trusty mate, Little John, went to dine with one of the Abbots of Whitby, and, being desired by the Abbot to try how far each of them could shoot and arrow, they both shot from the top of the Abbey, and their arrows fell on the west side of Whitby Laithes, beside the lane leading from thence to Stainsacre; that of Robin Hood falling on the north side of the lane and that of Little John about a hundred feet further, on the south side of the lane.”

Whitby folklorist P.S. Jeffrey (1923) took this myth literally, saying how the distance of the arrows fired by the respective folk heroes was “scarcely credible, as the distance in each case is about a mile-and-a-half.”  However, the earlier historian Lionel Charlton (1779) thought the incredible feat quite credible!

The distance between the Abbey and the stones is 1.36 miles (2.2km); but it may be that the direction related in the tale was more important than the distance, as the alignment between the two sites runs northwest to southeast—or southeast to northwest, whichever you prefer!—and may relate to an early astro-archaeological alignment.  Might…..

References:

  1. Anonymous, “Robin Hood in Yorkshire“, in Yorkshire Folk-Lore Journal – volume 1, T.Harrison: Bingley 1888.
  2. Anonymous, “Whitby Arms,” in Yorkshire Folk-Lore Journal – volume 1, T.Harrison: Bingley 1888.
  3. Benedicti, Ordinis S., Cartularium Abbathiae de Whiteby – volume 2, Andrews: Durham 1881.
  4. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  5. Charlton, Lionel, The History of Whitby and Whitby Abbey, T. Cadell: York 1779.
  6. Doel, Fran & Goeff, Robin Hood: Outlaw or Greenwood Myth, Tempus: Stroud 2000.
  7. Green, Barbara, The Outlaw Robin Hood – His Yorkshire Legend, KCS: Huddersfield 1992.
  8. Gutch, Mrs, County Folk-lore – volume 2: North Riding of Yorkshire, York and the Ainsty, David Nutt: London 1901.
  9. Jeffrey, P. Shaw, Whitby Lore and Legend, Whitby 1923.
  10. Mitchell, W.R., Exploring the Robin Hood Country, Dalesman: Clapham 1978.
  11. Parkinson, Thomas, Yorkshire Legends and Traditions – volume 2, Elliot Stock: London 1889.
  12. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.
  13. Young, George, The History of Whitby and Streoneshalh Abbey – volume 2, Clark & Medd: Whitby 1817.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Robin Hood & Little John stones

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Robin Hood & Little John stones 54.472767, -0.586328 Robin Hood & Little John stones

Robin Hood’s Well, Higham, Lancashire

Sacred Well: OS Grid Reference – SD 81755 35151

Archaeology & History

Robin Hoods Well on 1848 map

On the north-side of the River Calder, a short distance above the riverbank below Pendle Hall—as shown on the earliest OS-map of the area, but without a name—the local history writer, Joe Bates (1926), told us about this “spring of icy cold water”, which, in bygone years, “used to be called Robin Hood’s Well.”  (Having moved out of the area, I’m not able to say whether this site is still visible.  Can any local folk illuminate us on the matter?)

Folklore

Like many other sacred and healing wells across Britain, Bates (1926) said that the waters from Robin Hood’s Well,

“was at one time considered a specific for certain ailments of the eyes.”

References:

  1. Bates, Joe, Rambles twixt Pendle and Holme, Nelson 1926.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Robin Hood's Well

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Robin Hood\'s Well 53.812333, -2.278560 Robin Hood\'s Well

Lady Well, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17884 23487

Also Known as:

  1. Ladies Well

Getting Here

Ladies Well on the 1852 map
Ladies Well on the 1852 map

This can take a little bitta finding if you don’t know the area. So it’s best starting from Hartshead church, right on top of the hill here.  From whichever direction you’re taking to reach Hartshead, ask a local when you get close and they’ll direct you there. From here, walk out of the churchyard and turn left. Walk barely 50 yards and turn left again along Lady Well Lane. Past the old houses and bear right where it becomes a dirt-track. This then turns left, then again right and – with the fields on either side of you – note the single hawthorn tree ahead of you by the walling. Go into the field at the back of the hawthorn and look under its shady bough. Tis there, I assure you!

Archaeology & History

The holy well is beneath this hawthorn tree
The holy well is beneath this hawthorn tree

Emerging at the edge of the field beneath an old hawthorn tree at the side of the track running to the adjacent church, the waters from here are clean and fresh—though the stone trough into which it flows is constantly clogged up and the ground around it very boggy.  The well has given its name to Lady Well Lane, which leads to the 12th century St. Peter’s Church, with its own ancient and legendary history.  The well is thought to derive its name from ‘Our Lady’, the Virgin Mary, indicating it would have had considerable importance in the religious traditions of the christians who named it, but moreso the original animistic traditions of normal local people who would have used it for much longer…

Close by this old stone trough appears to be another one, covered by moss and the encroaching field.  Whatever medicinal properties the waters may once have had, have long since been forgotten.  Around Lady Well is a healthy abundance of flora: elder, chickweed, nettle, clover, bramble, dandelion, sow thistle, dock and shamanic species.

Folklore

The overgrown Lady Well
The overgrown Lady Well

Marion Pobjoy (1972), like her predecessors, suggested that this was one of many sites in Calderdale used by St. Paulinus to perform baptisms.  Local folklore tells that Robin Hood stopped here to drink the waters—but then we find an abundance of the pagan outlaw’s activities all round here.  The nearby church of St.Peter is aligned to the equinoxes and may well be an indication of when pre-christian celebrations occurred here.  The yew tree in churchyard was where Robin Hood was supposed to have taken wood to fashion one of his bows.  Modern folklore also ascribes the well to be along a ley line.

References:

  1. Heginbottom, J.A., ‘Early Christian Sites in Calderdale,’ in Proc. Halifax Ant. Soc., 1988.
  2. Pobjoy, Harold N. & Marion, The Story of the Ancient Parish of Hartshead-cum-Clifton, Riding 1972.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Lady Well

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Lady Well 53.707506, -1.730549 Lady Well

Robin Hood’s Stone, Allerton, Liverpool, Lancashire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SJ 3997 8638

Archaeology & History

Robin Hood's Stone (after Alfred Watkins)
Robin Hood’s Stone (after Alfred Watkins)

Similar in size and appearance to one of the cup-marked Tuilyies standing stones in Fife, Scotland, it was our old ley-hunter, Alfred Watkins, who described this stone in his Ley Hunter’s Manual (1927), along with giving us the old photograph taken by one of his mates here, which also showed the cup-and-ring carvings near the base of the stone. Are they still visible? (I’ve not been here, hence mi ignorance!) Watkins thought the cup-markings at the bottom represented some of the local leys—but unfortunately they don’t.

Folklore

Legend says that the deep grooves running down the stone were made by men sharpening arrow-heads on it (like a whetstone).  There was also the usual christian Victorian fable that the stone was used by the druids and that the grooves on the stone were where the blood of their human sacrifices was channelled to the ground!  The stone was also said to have some relationship with the nearby Calder Stones (which seems probable).

References:

  1. Cowell, Ron, The Calderstones – A Prehistoric Tomb in Liverpool, Merseyside Archaeological Trust 1984.
  2. Watkins, Alfred, The Ley Hunter’s Manual, London 1927.

Links:

  1. Mike Royden’s Local History Pages – Robin Hood’s Stone

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Robin Hood's Stone

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Robin Hood\'s Stone 53.370878, -2.903516 Robin Hood\'s Stone

Robin Hood’s Bed, Blackstone Edge, Lancashire

Legendary Rocks: OS Grid Reference – SD 97204 16356

Getting Here

Robin Hoods Bed on 1851 map
Robin Hoods Bed on 1851 map

Follow the same directions to get to the Aiggin Stone.  Once here, go over the stile by the fence opposite towards the great geological ridge less than half-a-mile south.  Head for the triangulation pillar right on the top of the ridge, and there, about 20 yards past it, higher-up than the triangulation pillar at the very top of Blackstone Edge, is Robin Hood’s legendary stone bed!

Archaeology & History

Robin Hoods Bed, looking north

There’s very little of archaeological interest known up here, save a mass of flints and scrapers that have been found scattering the moorland heights hereby, from the mesolithic period onwards.  But we have a relative lack of neolithic to Iron Age remains — officially anyhow!  A possible standing stone can be found a few hundred yards south, but there’s little else.

The rock that’s given its name to Robin Hood’s Bed overlooks the very edge of the ridge, detached from the main section, with a large and very curious nature-worn ‘bed’ on its very crown, more than 4 feet wide and about 7 feet long, into which one comfortably lays.  It was named in the boundary records of the township of Rishworth in 1836, where it describes other historical stones, saying:

“thence under Robin Hood’s Bed to a stone marked ‘W.S.G.S. 1742, 1770, 1792, and the following figures and letters, ‘1826 I.L.S.'”

Folklore

This enormous millstone grit boulder, sitting 1550 feet upon the high moors is, according to legend, a place where our famous legendary outlaw once slept.  Whilst sleeping here, some of his followers were said to have kept guard and looked over him.

Robin Hood’s Bed, from below

A rather odd piece of folklore recited by Jessica Lofthouse (1976) is that “no winds ever blow” at Robin Hood’s Bed, who then went on to tell of the time she visited the place.  Walking along the rocky ridge where the stone bed is found, the winds were such that “we had almost been blown over the edge,” until just a few hundred yards further when they eventually reached the fabled site, Nature granted them a sudden calmness unknown to all the high moorlands around, affirming the curious folklore.

The ceremonial stone ‘bed’

Robin Hood’s Bed itself was undeniably an important ceremonial site for both rites of passage and ritual magick to our indigenous ancestors.  The place screams of it!  It also seems very likely that the hero figure of Robin Hood replaced an earlier mythological character, akin to the fabled female creation deity, the cailleach, found commonly in more northern and Irish climes, whose echoes can still be found around our Pennine hills.  For we find that Robin Hood was said to have taken a large boulder from here and with a mighty heave threw it six miles across the landscape due west into the setting sun, where it eventually landed at Monstone Edge, near Rochdale!  Local people were so astounded at this feat that the stone was given the name of Robin Hood’s Quoit.

7ft tall natural standing stone

The old place-name authority Eilert Ekwall (1922) related the folklore that the giant ridge of Blackstone Edge “is said to refer to a boundary stone between Yorkshire and Lancashire.”  Which may be the curious upright standing stone, more than 7 feet tall, less than 50 yards NNE which gives a very distinct impression of having been deliberately stood upright, amidst this mass of loose geological droppings!  It would be helpful if there was a geologist in the house who could tell us decisively one way or the other…

Another etymological possibility that has been posited relates to the word ‘bed’ at this site.  Ordinarily it would be sensible to attach the word to the great stone ‘bed’ atop of the poised boulder.  But with the attached legends symptomatic of prehistoric monuments, it would not be improper to highlight that the old Welsh word ‘bedd‘ (a place-name element that is not uncommon in Lancashire) means, “a grave or tomb”.  And this site would be ideal for such an old prehistoric cairn…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Ekwall, E., The Place-Names of Lancashire, Manchester University Press 1922.
  3. Lofthouse, Jessica, North Country Folklore, Hale: London 1976.
  4. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1961.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Robin Hood's Bed

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Robin Hood\'s Bed 53.643726, -2.043759 Robin Hood\'s Bed

Robin Hood’s Penny Stone, Midgley Moor, West Yorkshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid References – SE 01831 28436

Also Known as:

  1. Robin Hood’s Pennystone
  2. Robin Hood’s Rock

Getting Here

If you follow the directions to reach the Churn Milk Joan stone, then continue onto the moor following the same directions to find the Miller’s Grave, once you’ve reach this you’ll see a large rounded boulder a couple of hundred yards away on your left, to the northwest.  That’s Robin Hood’s Penny Stone!

Archaeology & History

Robin Hood’s Pennystone, Midgley Moor

In terms of this site’s archaeology, it has none to write home about in official records (other than a few flints found nearby), but there’s more to this place than meets the eye.  A large rounded boulder sat upon the moorland plain with a large Nature-worn bowl on its top, the site is some 112 yards (102m) northwest of the little-known, but impressive Miller’s Grave prehistoric cairn (close to being a midsummer/midwinter line).  North and south of the rock are small lines of prehistoric walling — though their context is difficult to assess.  The Greenwood Stone and Greenwood B stone can be found about 200 yards west.

Folklore

A singular footpath once led up to this old boulder, atop of which – in its large ‘bowl’ – vinegar used to be poured. In this, coins were left by local people who suffered the plague and in return food was left for them.  And of course it is said that Robin Hood frequented the place in bygone times.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Robert, Andy, “Our Last Meeting,” in NEM 37, 1989.
  3. Robert, Andy, Ghosts and Legends of Yorkshire, Jarrold: Sheffield 1992.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.752288, -1.973712 Robin Hood\'s Penny Stone

Castle Hill, Kirklees, Brighouse, West Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SE 173 216

Getting Here

Along the Brighouse to Mirfield A644 road, a half-mile east of M62’s junction 25 on Wakefield Road, note the woodland on your left-hand side, above the walling.  Although on allegedly private land, you can approach by hopping over the wall by the main road into the woods. Wander up the slope until it levels out and, just at the edge of the tree-line, past the brilliant overgrown folly amidst a mass of rhododendrons, you’ll see the denuded edges of this earthwork.  Though you might need a bitta patience seeking it out…

Archaeology & History

Very first sketch of this site (John Watson, 1775)

The remains of this low earthwork is found on the private land of Kirklees Hall and appointment is supposed to be made to explore, both this and the more famous Robin Hood’s Grave, a few hundred yards away. But if you can’t be bothered with that and find this little-known earthwork, you’ll see that it’s roughly squared in shape, though pretty overgrown.  In Bernard Barnes’ survey (1982) he described it as a “square or five sided enclosure, 2-3 acres in size, with bank and external ditch”, wondering whether it was used to enclosure cattle and stretching its possible origin between the Iron Age to the medieval.

Although the classical Roman archaeologist Ian Richmond (1925) believed the site to be from that period, the archaeologist J.J. Keighley thought that the site was “more likely to be Iron Age than Roman.”  He wrote:

“The earthwork in Kirklees Park is a square or five-sided enclosure with bank and external ditch… The site lies on Richmond’s trans-Pennine route.  According to Armitage and Montgomerie, the earthwork is 0.5 hectares in area, but it is actually nearer 0.8 to 1.2 hectares.  They compare its construction with the fort at Wincobank (South Yorkshire), stating that the bank on the counterscarp when excavated, revealed “a very rudely composed wall of undressed dry stone.”

Earlier local writers such as John Watson (1775) — whose early sketch of the site is reproduced above — and others also opted for the Roman date.  But, unless you’re a bit of an earthwork fanatic, this site may not be too much your cuppa tea. If you are gonna check this out though, make sure you check out Robin Hood’s old tomb in the trees not far away. Very odd.

References:

  1. Barnes, Bernard, Man and the Changing Landscape, Merseyside County Council & University of Liverpool 1982.
  2. Keighley, J.J., “The Prehistoric Period,” in West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to AD 1500 (WYMCC: Wakefield 1981).
  3. Richmond, I.A., Huddersfield in Roman Times, Tolson Memorial Museum: Huddersfield 1925.
  4. Watson, John, The History and Antiquities of Halifax, J. Lowndes: London 1775.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Castle Hill

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Castle Hill 53.690566, -1.739501 Castle Hill