The Sloane Manuscript in the British Museum places Robin Hood in Loxley: "Robin Hood was borne at Lockesley in Yorkshire, or after others, in Nottinghamshire in the days of Henry the second, about the year 1160; but lived till the latter end of Richard the First. He was of (illegible but from the context could be 'noble') parentage, but was so riotous, that he lost or sold his patrimony, and for debt became an outlaw; then joining to him many stout fellows of like disposition, amongst whom one called Little John was principal, or next to him. They hunted about Barnsdale forest, Clomptoun Parke, and other such places. They used most of all shooting, wherein they all excelled [above] all the men of the land, though, as occasion required, they had also other weapons. One of his first exploits was the going abroad into a forest, and bearing with him a bow of exceeding great strength. He fell into company with certain rangers, or woodsmen, who fell to quarrel with him, as making show to use such a bow as no man was able to shoot with all; whereto Robin replied, that he had two better then that at Lockesley...., (then follows a collection of early rhymes in a less sophisticated form than the later printed version.)"
Roger Dodsworth the noted historian tells us Robert Lockesley aka Robin Hood was born in Loxley and fled to Clifton upon Calder in Barnsdale where he met Little John, this is what he says:- "Robert Lockesley, born in the Bradfield Parish of Hallamshire (Loxley) wounded his stepfather to death at plough, fled into the woods and was relieved by his mother till he was discovered. Then he came to Clifton upon Calder, (Barnsdale) and became acquainted with Little John, that kept the kine. Which said John is buried at Hathersage in Derbyshire where he hath a fair tombstone with an inscription. Mr Long saith that Fabyan saith, Little John was Earl Huntley's son. After, he joined with Much the Miller's's son."
John Harrison in his survey of the Manor of Sheffield confirmed Dodsworth’s notes by saying:
“William Green who was one of my Lord’s keepers did hold in regard of his office these parcels of land Item, Little Haggas croft wherein is ye foundation of a house or cottage where Robin Hood was born;"
At Monk Bretton were the 'black monks of St Mary's priory' who are mentioned in The Lytill Geste of Robin Hood. It is the Mo nk Bretton charter of 1422 that provides us with the first recorded mention of Robin Hood's Well on Watling Street at Barnsdale . The well is between Ferrybridge and Doncaster and is situated where the two parishes of Kirkby Smeaton and Burghwallis meet. Years ago at a nearby inn a leather bottle was preserved and the claim was made that it was originally the property of Robin Hood.."
King Henry VII In 1487, visited Pontefract Castle and was met by the earl of Northumberland with many Gentry and Nobles w ho were attached to the House of Lancaster. When they got to Barnsdale the account of the King's journey reads: "between Pontefract and Doncaster a littell beyonde Robyn Haddes Well are to be seen ruts and grooves on the surface of an ancient highway [Watling Street] made by Romans during their period of occupation." Evidence of this can be seen on nearby Blackstone Edge where on the paved Roman road between Ripponden and Littleborough there are ruts which were made by the wheels and groves were made by the poles that were used as brakes for the vehicles.
THE RHYMES OF ROBIN HOOD
This map may be helpful to those who are unsure of the geography around Barnsdale. Nottingham is about 90 miles away in another county. Richard Rolle was a monk at Hampole Priory and may have been the author of the "Little Geste of Robin Hood." Below is an extract from the Geste which precisely locates Robin Hood in Barnsdale, Yorkshire. The map of Barnsdale shows how it conforms to the Geste of Robin Hood
They wente up to the Saylis,
Th ese yeman all three;
They loked east, they loke west;
They might no man see.
But as they loked in to Barnsdale,
By Derne strete,
Than came a knyght ridinghe,
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wavyd beside.
His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray,
A soriar man than he was one
Rode never in somer day.
Litell Johnn was full curteyes,
And sette hym on his kne:
"Welcom be ye, gentyll knyght,
Welcom ar ye to me.
"Welcom be thou to grene wode,
Hende knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these oures thre."
"Who is thy maister?" sayde the knyght;
Johnn sayde, "Robyn Hode."
"He is gode yoman," sayde the knyght,
"Of hym I have herde moche gode.
"I graunte," he sayde, "with you to wende,
My bretherne, all in fere;
My purpos was to have dyned to day
At Blyth or Doncastere."
The original Rhymes of Robin Hood are set in Barnsdale and the place names are from that area. Red Roger and the Prioress of Kirklees were nearby. Barnsdale was Robin's home to which he returned after his encounters with the Sheriff of Nottingham. It was in Barnsdale where Robin robbed the Bishop of Hereford of his gold, it is in Barnsdale where Robin Hood helped the poor knight on his way to York, it is in Barnsdale where Robin Hood built the early wooden church of St. Mary Magdalene near the River Skell and it is in Barnsdale where Robin Hood and Little John first met and had their famous fight over the same River Skell at Wentbridge and where Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar met and fought over the River Skell at Fountains Abbey.
Here is a short extract about the contest over the River Skell between Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar which is not to be confused with the fight on the bridge between Robin Hood and Little John over the same Yorkshire river.
Will Scadlock he kill'd a buck,
And Midge he kill'd a doe,
And little John killed a heart of geese
Five hundred foot him fro.
'God's blessing on thy heart,'said Robin Hood,
'That hath [shot] such a shot for me;
I would ride my horse an hundred miles,
To finde one could match with thee.'
That caus'd Will Scadlock to laugh,
He laugh'd full heartily:
'There lives a curtal friar in Fountains Abbey
Will beat both him and thee.
'That curtal friar in Fountains Abbey
Well can a strong bow draw;
He will beat you and your yeomen,
Set them all on a row.'