Illustrated London News (28/Jan/1843) - Nooks and Corners of Old England: The Grave of Robin Hood
Nooks and Corners of Old England
When Newstead was a subject of illustration in our pages, from the surrounding Forest of Sherwood arose a thousand associations of England's boldest outlaw — the ballad hero, Robin Hood. And here again comes a memento of him to claim a nook and comer, not undeservedly — the grave place of Robin Hood — the spot under the forest turf, sufficient for him who trod so blithely upon its surface; calling to the mind's eye the picture drawn in the old ballad of the outlaw, overtaken by sickness, seeking the aid of a leech in the Abbey of Kirkstall — and there, resigning himself to the hands of the faithless friend — his blood ebbing away untended and unchecked. Detecting, too late, the perfidy, he strives to wake the echoes as he had been wont to do when his bugle summoned his "merrie men all." Little John catches the faltering tone, suspects at once the sad truth, hies away to the abbey, makes forcible entry to the small apartment whence the sounds had come, and there — sad sight to forester — lies Robin Hood bloodless, faint, and dying, before an open casement, from which he seeks once more to gaze upon the oaks he loved. Let the ballad tell the rest :—
"Give me my bent bow in my hand
And an arrow I'll let free,
And where that arrow is taken up
There let my grave digged be."
And for this — to mark his grave — the grave we now delineate, did Robin Hood speed his last shaft.
From a correspondent we received the sketch we have engraved, and with it some notes as to the inscription, which we give :— "A plain slab tills the space within the railings, and inserted in the low wall is a square stone with the following inscription :—
Here underneath this little stean
Laiz robert earl of huntingtan
Neer archer ver as hi sa gud
An pipl kauld im robin heud
Sic utlaws as hi an iz men
Will england nivir si ajren.
Obiit 24 Kalend : Decembris 1247.
"Its locality is the boldest and most picturesque in that neighbourhood. Situated on the extreme edge of Kirklees Park, near Huddersfield, its elevation is such as to present a most extensive view of what once formed a portion of the Forest of Sherwood, and which even now displays clumps of gnarled oaks scattered here and there, and, spite of the inroads of inclosures, interspersed with furze and brushwood."
Castle Hill, on the left, stands out proudly above the minor eminences around; beyond stretch a range of hills towards Blackmoor Top, until "beautifully less" they seem to mingle with the sky.
Time works great changes. Instead of scudding deer, the hissing train shoots through the valley — now buried between the hills, then darting forth, dashing over rivers, towns, through dales, parks, and villages, until its incessant "sobs" become less and less audible, and you discern a little speck and smoke in the distance ; look again — 'tis gone ! — and a narrow pass no wider than the hand is all the eager eye can distinguish. The once lonely forest or dreary covert now resounds with the hum of machinery and busy life — Shirewood oaks are usurped by factory chimneys. The laugh and clatter of children in their "cloggen shoin" fill the vale below, where once the burst of mirth from Little John and his jovial followers made echo join in their wild glee ; and between the hills, where, a few centuries since, all was desolate and drear, scarcely anything betokening life or living to be found, now, beneath a hanging cloud of smoke, which seems partially sustained by the eminences on either side — under that canopy is the bustle, industry, idleness, splendour, and poverty of the grand fancy market of the kingdom — Huddersfield.