Robin Hood’s Grave

The traditional site of Robin Hood’s grave at Kirklees estate in Yorkshire, has been the subject of controversy since the sixteenth century. There are doubts about it’s authenticity, and over the centuries there have been conflicting accounts regarding the contents of the gravesite. There are two stones associated with it: the slab with the cross, and the stone with the epitaph. A chronology is given in this section; this attempts to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the origins of Robin’s supposed resting place.  The Cistercian nunnery at Kirklees in the west riding of Yorkshire, was founded in honour of the virgin Mary and St. James by Reiner le Fleming during the reign of Henry II (1154 – 89).* From the years 1306 to 1315 there was some scandal at Kirklees, especially in the case of three of the nuns: Alice Raggid, Elizabeth Hopton, and Joan Heton. These ladies were apparently too friendly with some of the male visitors. The nunnery became a refuge for unmarried mothers, but Kirklees is best known as the place of Robin Hood’s death and burial.

*An article by C. T. Clay suggests that the nunnery was founded early in the twelfth century.

1400? His death at Kirksley (Kirklees) at the hands of the prioress, as mentioned in the closing verses of the Gest.
1539 Joan Kyppes surrenders Kirklees Priory, the whole property amounts to 29 pound 18 shillings and 6 pence.
c.1540 John Leland in his Collectanea writes; ‘Kirkley monasterium monialium ubi Ro. Hood nobilis ille et lex sepultus’. The monastery of Kirkley where the famous noble outlaw  Robin Hood is buried. (Translation is by  David Hester, University of Adelaide).
1565 John Armytage of Farnley Tyas, takes possession of the Mansion House or Manor of  Kyrklees.
1569 Richard Grafton’s Chronicle at Large records: ‘For the sayd Robert Hood, beyng afterwardes troubled with sicknesse, came to a certein Nonry in Yorkshire called Bircklies, where desirying to be let blood, he was betrayed and bled to deth. After whose death the Prioresse of the same place caused him to be buried by the high way side, where he had used to rob and spoyle those that passed that way. And upon his grave the sayde Prioresse did lay a very fayre stone, wherin the names of Robert Hood, William of Goldesborough and others were graven. And the cause why she buryed him there was for that the common passengers and travailers knowyng and seeyng him there buryed, might more safely and without feare take their jorneys that way, which they durst not do in the life of the sayd outlawes. And at eyther end of the sayde Tombe was erected a crosse of stone, which is to be seene there at this present.’
16th century The Sloane manuscript tells us that the prioress, after ‘letting him bleed to death, buryed him under a great stone by the hywayes syde’.
1607 William Camden’s Britannia records, ‘having passed by Kirkley, once the seat of the religious Nunnes, and therefore the grave of Robin Hood’.