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Robin Hood’s Stoop: A Lesser Known Landmark Of England Lost To Time

 


Robin Hood is a renowned legend of English folklore, making his home in Sherwood Forest


with his band of merry men; he stole from the rich, gave to the poor and fought for what he


believed in. Although the story of Robin Hood is routed in folklore, these legends are loosely


based on real people’s experiences. There was no one person called Robin Hood, but rather


multiple individuals who lived their lives as outlaws (some even using ‘Robin Hood’ as an


alias) rebelling against the status quo, whose struggles helped build upon Robin Hood's


Legend.


 


With the legend passed down through ballads, poems, and stories over time, the story


became twisted and distorted to better fit the social standards of the time. For example, as


the story of Robin Hood began to grow in popularity, it was distorted to identify with the


upper class, leading to Robin Hood’s character and motivation to shift to fit the ideals of the


public.


 


The original image of a rebellious criminal running around redistributing wealth from the rich


to the poor began to spiral into Robin working for the king instead of running circles around


him and the nobility, showing how the legend has been rewritten countless times. So it is


understandable that parts of the legend have fallen to the wayside and have started to be


lost to time.


 


When people talk about important historical landmarks and sites surrounding the folklore of


Robin Hood, they often mention Robin Hood’s Bay, Sherwood Forest, Nottingham Castle or


Little John’s Grave. But I think the most interesting of them all lies within the story of Little


John’s death.


 


Robin Hood’s Stoop (formerly known as Little John’s Flight) sits quietly tucked away atop a


hillside, slowly slipping into retirement, on the border of Hathersage and Offerton Moore,


quaint countryside towns outside of Manchester. The Stoop is a medieval boundary stone


holding significant importance to the lore of Robin Hood, as it marks the spot where Robin


allegedly shot an arrow, which flew over 2 miles and landed in Hathersage churchyard in a


Mew tree to pick Little John’s burial site.


 


Little John’s grave is still located in that churchyard to this day, surrounded by flowers,


plaques, and a metal recreation of the supposed arrow shot by Robin sitting in the stone brick


by the entrance to the churchyard. However, on the other side of the valley, there is nothing but an old wire fence, and fields surround The Stoop. No signposts are pointing the way; no signs


explaining what the stone mound is, and the only reason I could locate it was thanks to the


coordinates from the Derbyshire Council government website and an entry onto a hiking blog


‘Out And About’.


 


There are numerous contradictions and continuity errors in the story of Robin Hood, one of


which is who fired the arrow from Robin’s stoop. Most information regarding The Stoop


refers to Robin as the one who shot the bow using his impressive archery skills, implying that he was with Little John as he was dying to help pick his final resting place.


 


However, Little John is historically the only member of the Merry Men to be present at Robin’s death, having returned to Hathersage after Robin’s death. So Robin would have died before Little John returned to Hathersage to pick his burial site, meaning he must have been the one to fire the arrow. This detail explains why The Stoop used to be named Little John's Flight. Over time, the legend has shifted, and details have been forgotten.


 


Being able to follow in the footsteps of these heroes was such a surreal experience, helping


me to understand the struggle and dedication these individuals (whether they were real or


just loosely based on some individuals) must have had. Even if their stories don’t stand up to


the test of time, I like to think the meaning behind these old tales will.


 


With the legend of Robin Hood slipping further into the past and being changed even further,


with modern adaptations, it is more important than ever to focus on preserving what real-life


evidence, sites, and artefacts we still have around us. Although the legend of Robin Hood is


still very much up for debate, complex, and borderline fiction after being retold many times, it


still holds a strong message and is a significant part of English folklore.


 


It is not often that you get some form of physical confirmation that one of your childhood


hero’s legends might have some truth behind it, which is why it is so upsetting to see it


drifting further into the past. First, it lost its top and then had to be stabilised in 2008 to stop it


 


from crumbling over on itself. Maybe next, it will slide itself right off the hillside altogether.


 


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Tags: #History #Yorkshire #Folklore #RobinHood



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