The grave in the picture is of a type that is often studied by Robin Hood enthusiasts and this picture of an 18th century grave from the Wakefield area was kindly supplied by Stephen Hill. Only the wealthiest families would be able to afford such a grand memorial so unless Robin Hood was pardoned and belonged to a wealthy family it is more likely his final resting place would be marked by a simple wooden cross perhaps two branches tied together, now long gone?
The parish of Bradfield includes Loxley and High Bradfield was originally called "Kirkton" which comes from the Anglo-Saxon "cyrictun", meaning a cemetery. Another local name was "Dead Man's Half Acre. Later Kirkton came to be called Kirk Town (Churchtown) and now it is called High Bradfield to distinguish it from Low Bradfield. The original church was built soon after the Norman Conquest by the Monks of Ecclesfield who walked there each Sunday to take the services. The significance of Bradfield is that it is only a relatively short walk from there to Hathersage where according to legend Little John is buried.
The strange mounds behind the church are described by historians as a "motte and bailey" castle supposedly thrown up in haste after the conquest of Hallamshire by the Norman's as a defensive fortification although they may go back much further and the historian Joseph Hunter described Bailey Hill as "a Saxon camp, as fair and perfect as when first constructed, save that the keep is overgrown with bushes. The date of this work is now impossible to ascertain; but it is obvious that so complete a work must have been formed not in haste, or to serve any temporary purpose, but to be used as a constant military post; one of the frontier barriers, it is probable of the Kingdom of Northumbria." The hill behind the church tower is "Castle Hill."
Addy in his "Hall of Waltheof" (1895) said he had examined Bailey Hill carefully and concluded the evidence pointed away from a defensive purpose, more that the hill was the former place of village assembly, law-giving and burial.
Bailey Hill consists of two artificial mounds, known as the round mound and the long mound, on a prominent high point above the undulating landscape in the valley below. The round mound is fifty feet in height and entirely surrounded by a deep trench.
"The great earthwork," Addy wrote. "Was originally a burial mound, and afterwards doubtless the place of the old folk moot, or village assembly, and the scene of many a religious rite . . . the appearance of Bailey Hill, as you look down upon it from the fields above, is most characteristic of a large burial mound. It is like an enormous sugar-loaf, with a flattened top, and were its sides not overgrown with stunted trees the resemblance to a pyramid would be most striking."
Robin Hood it is said lies burried at Kirk Lees and in the same parish as Loxley there is the church of Kirk Town seen in the picture.
In the “Lee” of the Church, "Kirk Lee," is a graveyard that could be the Kirklees of the ballad?
The Knights Hospitlars who were known for their medical skills were prominent in the area, they owned Platts Farm which is still lived in and they built a hospital at nearby Castleton at the invitation of William Peveril's wife, this was their home and it is where William Peveril I. who was the Sheriff of Nottingham died.
Judith the wife of Watheof the Earl of Huntingdon introduced monks to Ecclesfield and after her husbands death she gave the whole surrounding area of Hallamshire to Roger-de-Buslie, the Norman baron of Tickhill near Doncaster. Was he "Red Roger" of the Geste? Judith and her younger daughters became Prioresses while her eldest daughter married David, King of Scots and earl of Huntingdon. Was Judith or one of her daughters the “wicked prioress” and “kinswoman” of Robin Hood to whom he went for healing?
We are told that after Little John had buried Robin Hood at “Church Lees” or “Kirklees” that he made his way back to Hathersage which is only ten miles away, where he sadly prepared his own grave.
Then Robin Hood and little John
went over yon bank of broom,
said Robin Hood to Little John
we shot for many a pound.
But now I cannot shoot at all
my arrows will not flee,
my cousin lives down below,
and please to God she will bleed me.
Tomorrow I to Kirkley go
to skilfully have blood let.
I cannot drink or eat my meat
for it makes me most unwell.
Till I have been to merry Church Lees
my vein for blood to let.
Then said Will Scarlet “I won’t let you go,
for bad Red Roger lives close to the route.
He loves so to fight he won’t let you pass,
without a good guard a challenge he’ll make.
To gain my consent, fifty bowmen take,
for you my good friend my love knows no end.
“Said Robin to Will, “And thou be off home,
young Scarlett I say, I wish thee be off.
“As soon as he heard what Robin Hood said,
William Scarlett for home he did head,
“if thou be so angry my master dear,
then not one thing more shall you from me hear.”
Farewell my good friend said Robin to Scarlet,
Little John I say true together we go.
With you by my side for to bear my bent bow,
cantering together to Kirkley's we go.”
Yet Robin said John, “You bear your own bow,
and shoot an arrow, before we both go.”
Said Robin to John, “To that I assent.”
Riding together, to Kirkley's they went.
And on the way, as Scarlett feared,
bad Red Roger, he did appear.
His sword he thrust, poor Robin’s side,
“twas wounded deep, how could he ride.
Robin now was nimble of yore,
his pride he sought now to restore.
He struck a blow with all his might,
it hit Red Roger on neck right.
And there upon the ground it lay,
Red Roger’s head, “twas such a sight.
Lie there, you rogue you lump of meat,
for food the birds and dogs to eat.
He said a prayer for Roger Red,
and then to Little John he said,
"I trust to God in heav'n so high,
I feel so weak that I may die.
Give me the sacraments with your hand,
my sacraments so I won’t be dammed."
So feeling very feeble and ill,
they went as fast as Robin could go.
To Kirklees Priory Robin’s near gone,
in the saddle sat down very low.
The two bold men they both rode in rank,
until they came to deep water black.
And over brook was laid a plank,
upon it kneeled a woman old,
and she was cursing Robin bold.
Why do you curse bold Robin Hood
(half a page missing.)
Then on they go together the pair,
and happen across two ladies fair,
who wait to warn him of danger there,
and weeping sadly relate their woe.
Friend Robin true has a deadly foe,
his weakened body is near its end,
his blood to let by relative near,
but would she be a relative dear?
Said Robin its true but do not fear,
for close relatives we are and near,
the dame prioress my cousin she is,
this day no harm will she do to me.
She wouldn’t harm me the world to win,
So hurrying forth they quickly went,
and never did stop till there in sight,
came merry Churchlees, merry Churchlee.
Sir Roger of Doncaster, by the wicked prioress lay,
and there they betrayed Robin, with their dastardly false play.
With bad, foul, and evil thoughts, plots the prioress of Kirkley,
who for love of a black knight, betrayed Robin “twas not right.
Together for their false love,
full evil must now be done,
for good Robin how to slay,
plotting in bed where they lay.
And when they came to merry Church Lees,
they knocked upon the ring one two three,
none was so ready as his cousin,
she rose herself Robin to let in.
Now will you sit please cousin dear,
this day and drink some beer with me?
No, I will not I promise you,
till my blood you have letted be.
Then Robin gave to dame prioress,
full twenty pounds in gold no less.
He bade her spend upon herself,
when that was gone she would have more.
I have a room cousin Robin she said,
which you before this day did never see,
and if it pleases you to walk therein,
then on this day your blood shall letted be.
And down she came the dame prioress,
and in her hands all wrapped in silk,
a pair of blood irons she did hold,
with which to do her dirty work.
Her hand it was so lily-white,
She led him to a private room,
She laid the blood-irons on his vein,
and pressing hard she pierced it through.
She saw the blood so bright so red,
she left the room and locked the door,
The blood it flowed so bright and red,
the blood it flowed so thick and fast.
At first it flowed the thick, thick blood,
and then the blood began to thin,
it bled all day and through the night,
till noon next day, it was not right.
Good Robin Hood he felt so weak,
and in his heart he knew the worst,
what could he do to help himself,
the ill within it was so deep.
Then he beheld a casement door,
but weak he was he could not leap,
if down then up he could not rise,
so death was the unwanted prize.
He then thought of his bugle horn,
which to his knee was hung down low;
he set his horn unto his mouth,
and blew three times the sound was poor.
The notes were weak but Little John,
beneath a tree had heard the song,
he rushed towards the sound I fear,
my master Robin’s end is near.
Little John to Kirklees has gone,
running, his master to be near,
when he to Kirkley-Hall arrived,
his master for to see alive.
He broke the locks one two or three,
his master thinking to set free,
when Robin he himself did find,
upon his knees he sadly fell.
Good friend he cried good friend,
I beg thee master mine,
what is that my good friend,
quoth Robin Hood to him.
What do you beg of me,
It is cried Little John,
to burn the Kirkley-Hall,
and all their nunnery.
I never hurt a maid,
in all my life so fair,
nor at my end will I,
they are a treasure rare.
Put bow within my hand,
an arrow I’ll let flee,
where ere my arrow falls,
then there my grave shall be.
Lay me a green sod under my head
another at my feet,
my best bow beside me place
for truly t’was my music sweet,
and make my grave of gravel and green
which is most right and meet,
give me length and breadth to lie
so they will say when I am dead,
HERE LIES BOLD ROBIN HOOD MY FRIEND
HERE LIES BOLD ROBIN HOOD
These words they readily granted him,
which did bold Robin please,
and there they buried bold Robin Hood,
near to the fair Kirkleys.
Upon his grave was laid a stone,
Stating that he died long ago,
his deeds they were so true and just,
time never can his actions hide.
He lifted neither bow nor spear,
his murder was by letting blood,
so loving friends the story ends,
of valiant hero bold and good.
Our friends his name was Robin Hood,
His epitaph is all we have,
as on his grave it firm was set,
and you can read it on this day.
Like it was now so long ago,
the “Robert Earl of Huntingdon,
lies underneath this little stone,
No archer was like him so good.
His wildness named him Robin Hood,
full thirteen years and something more,
these northern parts he vexed so sore,
such out-laws and his merry men.
Tis England’s very sad lament,
That him they’ll never know again,
He died this way it is a shame,
have mercy on his soul dear Christ.”
Hey down a derry derry down.”
A compilation mainly based on the Geste plus the;"A" and "B" versions of “Robin Hood’s Death” by Child.