Robin Hood

Like his life, Robin Hood's death is shrouded in mystery. In 1495, the printer, Winken de Ward, gave the date of Robin Hood's death as 22nd November 1247. Elizabeth de Staynton lived 100 years later.

The circumstances are no clearer. Whilst he was being treated by Elizabeth de Staynton at the gatehouse of Kirklees Nunnery, she bled him and he subsequently died. As he was dying, he is said to have shot an arrow from the gatehouse and asked to be buried where the arrow fell, as an old ballad says

These words they readily promised him
Which did bold Robin please,
And there they buried Robin Hood
Near to the fair Kirkleys.

Legend tells that Robin was so weak that the arrow fell into Nun Brook, and Little John took the bow and fired a second arrow. The grave is on unconsecrated ground 660 yards from the gatehouse. Only a fragment of the grave now remains.

An unsubstantiated story from the 19th century says that the grave had been moved during the Civil War.

The grave is said to be haunted.

A wall was built around the grave in the 1770s, in order to protect the stone from those who believed that fragments of it had curative properties for toothache and other ailments. The grave was damaged during the construction of the nearby Yorkshire-Lancashire railway when navvies sought relief from the stone for their dental problems.

In September and October 1784, Jonas Stott built new walls and crafted the present pillars and finials at a cost of £6 18/3d. In 1785, cast-iron railings were placed along the wall around the grave by Messrs Emmett, local blacksmiths, at a cost of £14 4/0d.

An inscription on the north wall of the grave reads:

Here underneath dis laitl stean Here beneath this little stone
Laz robert earl of Huntingtun Lays Robert Earl of Huntingdon
Ne'er arcir ver az hie sa geud Never was an archer so good as he
An pipl kauld im robin heud And people called him Robin Hood
Sick utlawz as hi an iz men Such outlaws as he and his men
Vil england nivr si agen Will England never see again

Obiit 24 kal: Dekembris 1247
The style of the lettering has cast doubt on the date of the inscription.

In the 18th century, Sir Samuel Armytage excavated the grave to a depth of 3 ft but failed to reveal any signs of interment or disturbance of the natural soil.

There are stories of ghosts having been seen near the grave.

It is said that the bow and arrow of Robin Hood are preserved at Kirklees Hall.

There are 3 points to support the claim that Robin Hood was buried here:

  1. Of all the legends which mention his death, he is said to have died at a Nunnery,

  2. In all the stories where the Nunnery is named, it is said to be Kirklees Nunnery.

    The poem A lytell geste of Robin Hood says

    Robyn dwelled in grene wode
    Twenty yere and two,
    For all drede of Edwarde our kynge
    Again wolde he not goo.
    Yet he was begyled, I wys,
    Through a wycked woman,
    The pryoress of Kyrkesley
    That nye was of his kynne.

  3. No other location has claimed to be the burial place for Robin Hood

Grafton's Chronicle of 1569 says that

The prioresse [of Kirklees] caused him to be buried by the highway-side where he used to rob and spoyle those that passed that way.

And upon his grave the sayd prioresse did lay a very fayre stone, wherein the names of Robert Hood, William of Goldsborough and others were graven. And the cause why she buryed him there was for the common passengers and travailers knowing and seeying him there buryed might more safely and without fear take their jorneys that way, which they durst not do in the life of the sayd outlawes. And at eyther end of the sayd tombe was erected a crosse of stone, which is to be seene there at this present

In his Britannica of 1607, Camden says :

At Kirklees nunnery Robin Hood's tomb with a plain cross on a flat stone is shown in the cemetery. In the ground at a little distance by two grave stones, one which has the inscription for Elizabeth de Staynton, prioress there

See Sir John Armytage, Cat i' th' well, Luddenden Dean, Clifton mosaic and Nuns' Grave

© Malcolm Bull 2018
Revised 08:34 /5th March 2018 / mmr12 / 8872

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