You'll have noticed the excessive amount of old walling close by the Grave no doubt, beneath the undergrowth, on most sides as you approach the place (I took a few photos of various lengths of it). And that there 'castle' bit 100yds west is a nice addition.
Indeed. Right in the middle of the Iron Age earthwork as well! Although it is rather atmospheric, all overgrown with ivy. Did you get any decent photos of the grave itself? Mine from when I lasted visited it are all rather poor and so far the Estate haven't responded to my request to go and take some more. I could just hop over the wall of course but I'm quite timid when it comes to going places I'm not supposed to be
But the more I wandered back and forth around our hero's grave, the more a simple statement seemed true: Robin Hood's Grave is little more than just another feature built into the ornamental gardens & grounds below the Estate here. I wish it wasn;t true - but that seems increasingly the case as far as I'm concerned. Wot d' y' reckon?
Well, it depends on exactly what you mean. I've never thought there was a single historical individual known as Robin Hood. He's most probably a composite figure based on 12th Century outlaws such as Fulk Fitz-Warin and Eustace the Monk, embellished by the literary flourishes of the medieval balladeers. As such, the grave can't be "authentic" in any empirical sense.
However, Kirklees is the only place consistently associated with Robin's death (quite a contrast to King Arthur, for instance) and has been since at least the mid-1400s when it was first referenced in the ballad-epic A Lytell Geste of Robin Hode
. The earliest record of an actual physical grave was by John Leland around 1536 i.e. before
the dissolution of Kirklees Priory and some fifty years before the Armytage family settled there.
The various features around the grave and the current grave "folly" itself are indeed the product of extensive landscaping works between 1750 and 1770. Yet it's clear that something
known as Robin Hood's grave stood there for over two centuries before that occurred.
Ultimately, it's the only site in Britain which lays claim to being the burial place of the outlaw and has done for at least five hundred years. Whichever way you look at it, that's quite a remarkable continuity of tradition. Given that I don't believe "Robin Hood" can actually be buried there, I find the process by which that legend became so indelibly attached to such an obscure site quite fascinating.
Having said that, I'm more than a little intrigued by the rounded stone on the grave itself. Have you managed to decode the words carved onto it? Izzit just a copy of the more famous carved headstone in the grave wall?
The rounded stone on the floor of the enclosure is almost certainly the original gravestone, reduced to that state by people taking chippings for toothache. There's some controversy about exactly what was on it. There was definitely a Calvary cross and an inscription of some sort, but that was described as illegible as long ago as the early 18th Century.
It definitely wasn't the same text as carved on the headstone. This first appears recorded by Ralph Thoresby in the 1730s, allegedly found amongst some earlier papers of Thomas Gale, Dean of York. However, Gale seems (for various reasons) to have been making some sort of scholarly joke which Thoresby failed to spot. When the grave was restored in the 1750s, it was erroneously included on the headstone, albeit presumably in good faith.
A rather belated Hello. Sorry
Welcome to the forum Kai.
You would be more than welcome to experience some more of the muddy tracks, bogs, bulls, rain, snow, fog (helps you go round in circles), rangers with shot-guns etc with us on our wanders.
Hello Mikki and thanks for the welcome. I certainly wouldn't mind joining for a wander at some point, although after being unwell for most of the winter and not having had much opportunity to get out, my fitness levels have declined to a rather embarrassing level...
Sunbright57 wrote:"It was claimed in the sixteenth-century that here (Kirklees) was the site of Robin's burial though there remains confusion over the authenticity of stones claimed to have been part of it (his tomb)". "He [Richard Grafton in his Chronicle at Large in 1569] described in detail the grave, which is depicted in a seventeenth-century drawing. Grafton goes on to say and I quote "that at either end of the tomb there was a cross of stone ...which is to be seen there at present." "He (Grafton) says that "on the gravestone were the names of Robin Hood, William of Goldesborough and others". Bradbury says "there clearly was a grave and at some time the Hude name was inscribed upon it but we retain some serious doubts as to whether it was originally Robin's monument".
The author goes on to say "It seems to be a second tomb, which is described by later writers". Richard Gough writing in the eighteenth-century, mentions a stone with a cross 'fleuree', broken and much defaced, and apparently not the same as the Goldesborough one. Bradbury says "This was the one to be excavated in the eighteenth-century by Sir Samuel Armitage, the owner of Kirklees Park", "and it is no great surprise that the dig produced nothing of interest". "There seemed to be no burial at all beneath the stone".
Thanks for quoting that. I hadn't seen Bradbury's book but this seems to be essentially a variation on the argument presented by Maurice Keen in The Outlaws of Medieval Legend
. The problem is, neither Grafton nor Gough can really be regarded as reliable sources. Grafton was a notorious plagiarist and there's certainly no evidence to suggest that he ever visited Kirklees. The same is true of Gough, who whilst generally far more highly regarded than Grafton, relied on second-hand information in the instance and made some quite obvious errors in the description of the grave in his expanded edition of Camden's Britannia
The excavation by Sir Samuel Armytage recorded Gough is often cited but again, it's evidence of very little. He is said to have dug only to a depth of one yard, but medieval burials were typically dug to nearer two and given that the site is heavily vegetated, the rate of soil accumulation means that by the early 18th Century any remains could've been several yards deep. An article in Bradford Antiquary from the late 19th Century mentions that the excavation actually hit the natural rock - which would be evidence of absence - but gives no source for this claim.