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The Grave of Robin Hood; mysterious goings-on in Calderdale

Monday, 11 March 2013

From hero of medieval ballads to potential vampire is quite a journey, but when the name is Robin Hood, it’s not such a surprising one, as members of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society discovered.  Kai Roberts, local folklorist, told the stories which have attached themselves to the death and burial of the Yorkshire outlaw, and especially to the monument known as Robin Hood’s Grave on the Kirklees Hall Estate.

Robin Hood's Grave

Early ballads told how the outlaw went to the nuns of Kirklees Priory to cure his sickness through the ancient practice of blood-letting, but that the evil prioress let him bleed to death. He was then buried close to the highway, at some distance from the consecrated ground of the church.
In this place there is indeed a monument, one much altered especially during the romantic period of the nineteenth century, but clearly marked on the OS map, and containing an ancient grave stone.

There is no clear evidence that a single person called Robin Hood ever existed, and the name could in face be a generic name for a roguish wandering robber. However, legends, as Kai explained, are often as significant as facts, and this particular landscape has been invested with magic and mystery over the centuries.

The atmospheric location of the grave with its ancient stone and illegible inscription has inspired many stories, from the prosaic to the fanciful. It was rumoured that a chip off the gravestone was a charm against toothache, and in the 1960s a fashion all things gothic transformed the story of the blood-letting prioress into a vampire tale, with tales of a hooded figure with dark mad eyes. Now the grave can occasionally be visited as part of the Calderdale Heritage walks.

At the next meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society, on Wednesday 13th March Malcolm Heywood will be talking about William Greenwood of Pudsey.

Local History website

Many thanks to Sheila Graham for this report

Previously, on the HebWeb

Todmorden Weavers and the Great War. Alan Fowler, former lecturer in Economic and Social History, told a meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society that the local Weavers’ Association had 4000 members at its peak.Read more (19 Feb)

Our Railway Station in the 19th century. David Taylor told a meeting of the Local History Society about how the early railway developed in Hebden Bridge. Read more (28 Jan)

Untold Stories: A glimpse into the lives of local people - Tony Wright has for the past ten years been collecting personal life stories on film and audio tape. Read more (18 Jan)

City in the Hills - Corinne McDonald and Ann Kilbey told a meeting of the Local History Society of Dawson City, the building of the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs and the publication of a new book. Read more (16 Dec)

Lament for the Mills - Robert Cockcroft, poet and academic told of his childhood spent close to mills owned and operated by his grandfather, John Cockcroft and his father, Keith. Read more (2 Dec)

How much thought do you give to a war memorial? - Mike Edwards told a meeting of the Local History Society, war memorials can be found in many forms and in unusual places. Read more (17 Nov)

Clubhouses: self help and co-operation - A small row of houses in Old Town, called Clubhouses, encapsulates some of the history and spirit of the Calder Valley explains Julie Cockburn. (30 October 2012)

Small Town Saturday Night - The story of a love affair with rock 'n roll at its peak in the 1950s and 60s from speaker Trevor Simpson.

The world of Cornelius Ashworth, speaker Alan Petford, Local History talk of 10 October 2012

Hebden Bridge Local History Society

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