SECTION VII. The forest of Shirewood
WE are now arrived at that portion of our history where we must tread (I had
almost said classic) magic ground, where beings like fairies danced; where deer sported
in groupes unnumbered, and in limits almost unbounded; where Robin Hood, and his
gay followers, performed their many and long renowned exploits; where the noble and
ignoble, the king and the robber have, alike, dashed through the thicket and the
woodland in pursuit of their nimble game. Here the stout archer with his bow, unmolested, traversed this vast domain, discharging his deadly darts. Here the spreading
oak, the ornament of forests, stood for ages a grand monument of embellished nature,
a shade and covert for the birds and beasts that inhabited this.—Here the little
squirel above, sprang from spray to spray, exhibiting its playful attitudes, while the wolf
below, in days of yore, made the woodlands eccho with its dreadful yells; or darting on
its prey satiated its voracious appetite. Time, which works such mighty changes on
the face of nature, in the passing of a few centuries, where man takes up his abode, exhibits here a scene extremely different to what it has been.—No more the woodland
songsters, whose natal hymns delightfully celebrated each return of the heavenly orb,
shall here be heard. All now is divided and subdivided into stumpy fences and right
lined hedge rows, intersecting each other; which to him that delights in the grand and
majestic scenes of nature, upon a large and varied scale, is cold and meanless. The
stranger, who has sumptuous ideas of field embellishments, and has refined his taste
by reading and observation, if he expect to meet in this great forest any thing like what
there has been, will be miserably disappointed. But no more, population in many instances,
and avarice in others, have laid the splendour of nature in the dust: here granduer and
sublimity is prostrate, degraded by culture, and lost, in that point of view, for
In another light, however, we must commend what, in that instance, is unfavourably related. On the forest I observed, raising and raised, many capital farm-houses;
and the adjoining fields, belonging thereto, rich in a plentiful crop of corn, which
at this lamentable period, July, 1795, may soon be found beneficiently useful.—
The soil, is not of that nature, which may insure, at all seasons, a plentiful har
vest. A hot summer is very inimical here to the growth of corn; the two preceding years, in some places, in this forest, scarcely produced the quantity of corn
sown; but it may be much improved by alternately ploughing and laying down
for grass, which I find is much practiced here.
The Forest it appears was anciently divided, or rather known by the names of
Thorny-Wood, and High-Forest, the first of which, although the least, contained, within
its boundaries, nineteen Towns or Villages, of which Nottingham was one. The
High Forest abounded with fine stately oaks, and was free from underwood.
Thoroton's account of this place, (or rather, chiefly, his father-in-law's, Serjeant
Boune's) is as follows:—
The Forest of Shirewood "extends itself into the Hundreds of Broxtow, Thurgarton a
Lee, and Bassetlawe. When this Forest of Shirewood was first made I find not; the first
mention of it that I do find is in Henry the seconds time, but I conceive it a Forest before, for William Peverell in the first year of Henry the second which is mistaken for
the fifth year of King Stephen] doth answer de Placitis Forestæ in this County. It seems
he had the whole profit and command of this Forest for his Estate, which, after coming
to the Crown, the Sheriff, 8 H. 2, in the account of his Farm prays to be discharged of
4l. in vasto Forestæ; and in the tenth year of the same Kings reign he prays the like
discharge of 4l. for the waste, as also allowance of 6l. 5s. paid to the Constable, eight
Foresters, and a Warrener, and to the Canons of Shirewood for Alms 40l. which I conceive to be the Prior and Monks of Newstede, then newly founded by Henry the second.
In the next year the Sheriff of the County Randulphus filius Engelrami answers de censu Forestæ; and in the twelfth year, Robert de Caltz Lord of Laxton, a Fermor, answers
for it 20l. and 15 H. 2, Reginaldus de Luci answers the like sum of 20l. pro censu
Forestæ, in both which years Robert Fitz-Randulph was Sheriff. In the ancient written
Forest Books of this County there is the Copy of a Charter made by King John when
he was Earl of Morteyne to Matilda de Caux, and Raph Fitz-Stephen her husband, and
to her heirs, of all the Liberties and Free Customs which any of the Ancestors of the
said Maud held at any time in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, viz. all the Forest of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, as their Ancestors ever held the same. It came to John Birking as heir to this Maud, so to Thomas Birking his son and heir, about 41 H. 3. and
shortly after to Everingham, who thereby claimed Custodiam Forestarum Regis in Com.
Nott. & Derby, which I conceive contains no more but this Forest of Shirewood, the rest
being disafforested by Henry the third, in the sixth year of his reign, in the sum of the
Statute of Carta de Forestæ. With this Everingham heir to Birking and Caux it continued till Edward the first's time, and then was seized as forfeited. Since the Guardianship hath been granted by the Princes to Noblemen and Gentlemen as a Character of
their especial favour, the state of this Fostership of Everinghams, and of the whole Forest
appears in an Inquisition taken by Geoffrey Langley, the Kings then Justice in Eyre of
his Forests beyond Trent; for the Forest Officers of Shirewood there find that there be
three Keepers in the Forest, First, Between Leene and Doverbecke. Secondly, The High
Forest. The Third, Rumwood. Robert Everingham, chief Keeper of the Forest, ought
to have a chief Servant sworn, going through all the Forest at the costs of Robert, to at
tach all trespasses, and present them at the attachments before the Verderors. In the first
Keeping between Liene and Doverbecke he ought to have one Forester riding with a Page
and two Foresters on foot; and there be two Verderors, and two Agisters. In this
Keeping there be three Hayes, Beskwood Hay, Lindeby Hay, and Willay Hay. The second
Keeping is the High Forest. In this Robert Everingham is to have two Foresters riding
with two Pages, and two Foresters on foot, and there be also two Verderors, and two
Agisters. In this Keeping are two Hayes, Birkland and Billahay, and the Park of Clipston,
and in these Hayes and Parke two Verderors, and two Agisters. In the third Keeping
Rumwoode, Robert Everingham ought to have one Forester on foot, and there be two
Woodwards, one of Carburton, another of Budby, and two Verderors, and two Agisters.
Robert Everingham ought also to have a Page bearing his bow through all the Forest to
gather Chiminage. The perambulation of this forest was upon the Commission of 16
H. 3, thus set forth, viz. at Coningswath Ford, so by the Highway towards Wellay Hagh
towards Nottingham, leaving out the Close of the Town of Wellay, from thence by that
way to Blackstone Haugh, from thence to that place where the River of Doverbecke goes
over that way, and so from thence as the river of Doverbecke goes into Trent. Westerley
from the Ford of Coningswath by the water called Mayden to the Town of Warksope, and
so by the same water to the Parke of Plesley Hagh, so up the same river to Otter Brigges,
from thence by the great Highway of Nottingham to the Mill Ford, from thence to Mayneshead, from thence betwixt the fields of Hardwick and Kirkeby to the corner that is called
Nun Carre, from thence by the assert of Edwan Brittayne to the Earl Stigh, and from
thence to Stolegate, from thence by the great Highway under the Castle of Annesley, from
thence by the great Highway to the Town of Linbye, through the midst of the Town to
the water of Leine, so to Lenton, and from thence by the same water, as it was wont of old
time to run into the water of Trent, and so along the River of Trent to the fall of Doverbecke, saving Wellay Hay, and other the Kings Demesne Woods in the County of Nottingham. This I have rather done that most men may know when they are within, and
when without the Forest. And although there were some deafforestations after, yet
were they resumed, so as the old Perambulation stands at this day without any remarkable alteration. There have not been many Justice Seats in this Forest of Shirewood;
those that I have met withal I shall here observe. The first was in Henry the second's
time before Hugh Bishop of Durrham, Robert Bishop of Lincolne, and Robert Earl of
Leicester. The next I find was in Henry the third's time before Robert Nevill and his
fellows Justices. The next after that was 15 E. 1. before William Vescy and his fellows; and of this Justice Seat the Rolls of are extant with the Chamberlains of the Exchequer in the Tallye Office, as also the Rolls of the next Justice Seat of 8 E. 3. before
Raph Nevill and his fellows. The next Justice Seat I can meet with is 21 H. 7. before
Simon Stalworth, and John Collier, Clarks, Robert Nevill, and John Port or Porter,
and before them as Deputies and Lieutenants of Sir Thomas Lovell, Guardian and Chief
Forester, and the Justice of the Forest of our Lord the King of Shirewood. But his Seat
I cannot find recorded in any place, although I made diligent enquiry for it upon a claim
there for the Town of Nottingham, and upon conference with William Noy, the late Atturney-General to his Majesty that now is, he told me it was no where to be found where
he had seen. I have seen some claims, as the beginning of another Justice Seat for this
particular Forest, 26 H. 8. before Thomas the first Earl of Rutland, but no further proceeding therein that I could learn. The last upon record in the Exchequer in the same
Tally Office is a Book, wherein is entred the Claims and Commencement of a Justice Seat
here before the then Lord Crumwell, the Kings then Chief Justice in Eyre of his Forests
on the North side of Trent. The state of this Forest at this present consists of a Warden,
his Lieutenant, and his Steward, a Bow-bearer, and a Ranger, four Verderors, twelve
Regarders, so reduced to the number of twelve by an Ordinance made in Edward the
first's time by William Vescy and his fellows, four Agisters, and twelve Keepers or
Foresters in the main Forest; besides there are now four Keepers in Thorney Woods, where
anciently there were but two, one of the North Bayle, another of the South, they are all
reduced under the Chief Forester the Earl of Chesterfeild and his heirs, whose father
Sir John Stanhoppe had the same granted in fee, with liberty to destroy and kill at their
pleasures, reserving an hundred Deer in the whole walk. There are also besides the
Forest-Keepers three in Beskwood Park, that before Edward the third's time was an Hay
or Wood uninclosed, but since it was imparked, the general Keeper of the Park hath
had the command of the other Keepers, as I presume the general Forester of the Hay had
before, for I find Richardus de Strelley was Forester there 2 E. 3. There is also one
other Keeper of Nottingham Parke, one other of Clipston Parke. The twelve ForesterKeepers are these, one of Maunsfeilde, one of Maunsfeilde Woodhouse, one of Annesley Hills
and Newstede, one of Papplewicke, one of Rumwood and Oswald, one of Rughford, one of
Billabay, one of Kirklond, one of Calveront, one of Farnesfeilde, one of Langton Arbour and
Blidworth, and one of Sutton in Ashefeild. The Castle and the Park of Nottingham was
granted to the late Earl Francis of Rutland, and is now the inheritance of the Dutchess
of Buckingham his daughter and heir. Clipton Park is now the inheritance of the Earl
of Newcastle, who is the present Warden of this Forest, and his are also the perpetual
placing of the Keeper of Rumwood and Oswald. The Keepership of Rughford is the inheritance of Sir William Savile Lord of Rughford. Annesley Hills, Papplewick and Newsteede are granted to Sir John Byron Lord of Newsteede, and the rest of the walks are in
the disposition of the Warden of the Forest. There are besides as members of the Forest
several Woodwards for every Township within the Forest, and for every principal Wood
It would not be impertinent to set down how that in the beginning of the reign of
King Henry the second, Ranulph the Sheriff, Hugh de Buyrun, (fn. 1) Raph de Hanfelin,
Robert de Perreriis, Raph de Annesley, Galsr. de le Fremunt, Raph de Heronvill, Hugh
Fitz-Wlviet, Robert de Hoveringham, Alexander Fitz-Toche, Simon Fitz Richard,
Robert de Ripera, Richard de Croxton, William de Herys, Walter de Amundevill,
Sampson de Stereley, Gervas Fitz-Richard de Muey, Ingelram, the brother of Sheriff,
Hugh Fitz-Roger, William Fitz-Reyner, Hugh Fitz-Albred, Hardewin, and Gaufr.
de Staunton, swore at Nottingham in the presence of Robert Earl of Leicester, who on
the part of the King commanded them that they should tell the truth concerning the
Customs and Liberties which the Land of the Archbishop (of York) which is in Notting
hamshire, and the Archbishop himself had in the same Shire, in the time of King Henry
the elder (viz. the first) and the year and day wherein that King Henry the first was alive
and dead. And after they had sworne, they said, That the whole Land of the Archbishop was without the Forest, which was contained between the bounds underwritten:
As Doverbeck falleth into Trent, and on the upper part from the water of Doverbeck unto
Ciningeswad, as the way of Blyth goes, and all that Land which is beyond Ciningeswad,
and beyond the aforesaid way, was out of the Forest unto Bykersdike, so that no Forester
of the Kings could intermeddle on the Kings part concerning that land, but the Archbishop and his men did freely both essart and do what they would with it as their own.
And out of the afore-named bounds in the old Forest, the Archbishop did Hunt nine
daies in the year, viz. three against Christmas, three against Easter, and three against
Whitsunday, through the whole Wood of Blythworth, and in that Wood of Blythworth
the Archbishop, and his Canons, and his men, had all the Attachments without waste
[guasto] and had their proper Foresters, and Aieryes of Hawks, and Paunage: This
was sealed by Robert Bishop of Lincolne, and Hugh Bishop of Durrham. John Romanus
Archbishop of York, 15 E. 1. by Hugh de Stapleford his Atturney, had great pleading
before William de Vescy, Thomas de Normanvile, and Richard de Crepping, Justices
in Eyre, concerning his holding Pleas of Vert in his Court of Southwell, and many other
Privileges: As William de Melton, one of his successours, Archbishop of York, by
William de Southwell his Atturney, had 8 E. 3. before Raph de Nevill. Richard de
Aldeburgh, and Peter de Midleton, as may be seen at large in the Rolls of both these
Justice Seats in the Tally Office. But I shall not be further particular in exhibiting any
further Collections on this subject, because the pleasant and glorious condition of this
noble Forest is now wonderfully declined. And there is at present, and long hath been,
a Justice Seat, which is not yet finished, and therefore cannot now be rendred a good
account of, held under my Lords Grace the Duke of Newcastle, Justice in Eyre of all
his Majesties Forests, &c. Trent North, wherein it seems his Deputies or Lieutenants
have allowed such and so many claims, that there will not very shortly be Wood enough
left to cover the Bilberries, which every summer were wont to be an extraordinary great
profit and pleasure to poor people, who gathered them and carried them all about the
country to sell: I shall therefore at this time say no more, May 24, 1675."
A gentleman having favoured me with a copy of the perambulation of the forest in the
reign of Henry the VIII. which I have not seen printed, I give it here:—
A Perambulacion of the fforrest of Sheerewood made the nineth day of September in
the Thirtyeth year of the Reigne of King Henry the Eighth (by the grace of God of
England and strance King defender of the faith Lord of Ireland and Supreme head
upon earth of the English Church;) By Robert Brymesley, Gabriel Berwicke, Richard
Perepoint Esqr's; Alexander Merring, Christopher ffitzrandole, Robert Whitemore,
John Walker, Manrite Orrell, John Garnon, John Palmer Gentlemen; Robert Levett.
William Mellars, Robert Rawson, John Lofscowe, John Bristow, and Robert North,
Regarders of the said fforrest of Sheerewood. Which perambulation begun at the
Kings Castle of Nottingham, And passing from thence unto the Kings bridge meadow
gate, And from thence by the Old Trent untill to the ancient Course of the Water of
Leene; which is the bound between the Kings Meadow and the Meadow of Wilforth
and from henceforward by the said ancient course of the Water of Leene even to the
Meadow called Carlam, And thence by the Comon way even to the Bridge upon Leene
nigh to the Orchard of the Priory of Lenton, And from thence ascending by the said
Water of Leene even unto the Bounds of the Kings Village of Bulwell; And so about
the Kings Wood of Bulwell Rise untill to the said Water of Leene so comeing up by the
said water unto Lindby Mill and so through the Midle Town of Lindby unto the Cross
there, And thence from the said Cross by the great Highway which leads to the ancient
Castle of Annessy, leaveing the said Castle on the right hand, And from thence by the
said great Highway unto Stolegate which leads unto Chesterfield lediate; And from
thence turning out of the way a very little towards the West by the Stole Stighe from the
north part of Annessey field unto a certain Lane which is between Annessey Woodhouse
field on the West side and a certain Assart ground of Richard Savion, heretofore of
Evans de Bretton on the East side; And so goeing down through the said Lane towards
the North unto a certain Corner called Nuncarr, And from thence by the way between
the Moores of Kirkby and Kirkby fields unto the Lane between the fields of Hardewick
and the ffields of Kirkby, And then by the said Lane towards the East; And then towards the North by the housedoore of Hardewick up to Mannswell Hedde; And from
thence towards the West by Hardewick hedge, And so goeing down towards the South
by the Rewarder Mere. between Kirkby ffields and Sutton ffields, up unto Holebrucke
Hawe; And from thence by the hedge of Holebrucke Hawe unto Coolegate; And so
passing away by the Coppice Wood of the Lord the King called ffullwood, And so by
the whole Bounds of ffullwood round about up to Normanton Lane, And from the
said Lane by the hedge of Normanton ffield, up to Hawkiswell, And from thence about
the ffields of Dirty Kuckwall and Houthwell up to Milnford bridge; And from thence
turning away by the great Way from Nottingham and the water up to Heyterbridge,
And by the said water goeing down to Plessey, And from thence by the water of Mayden unto the Town of Warsop, And so through the Midle Town of Warsop up unto the
Cross there, And so directly by the way of Warsop, And by that way unto the said
water of Mayden, And so by the said water towards the East up to Mugley ffoard;
And from thence goeing up towards the North unto the Haselgapp, And so leaveing the
Prest Crown on the right hand up unto the hedge between Rumwood and Crown ffields
up to the Kings Park late of the Abbot of Welbeck, And then goeing up by the said
Park unto the Owtegate fforrest; which is between the said Park, and the Park of the
Earle of Shrewsbury heretofore Lord of ffurnevall, And from the said Owtegate extending to Byards Stable, And again goeing up between the said Parks unto the Rodegate,
And so goeing down towards the East by the Sand Rodegate to a certain Stone at the
East of Warwood; And so decending a little towards the South unto A certain Stone
in Clumbre, And so beyond the ffords of Clumbre even to A Stone fixed on the East
part of Glemires and of the North part of the way there; And from thence directly towards the South up to another Stone which is fixed near to the way leads from Merrillbriggs to Awsland, And from thence up to a certain Holyn, which is nigh to Thoresbie
ffields, And goeing down through the aforesaid ffields (viz.) by the Parson Balke unto
the Town of Thoresbie, and from thence by the water of Meadem to Coningbie foard,
And from thence by the great way from Blyth to Coningswath forth, and so on the West
part of the Town of Wellow, And from thence by the great way which leads from Nottingham unto Blackstone Hew, And from thence unto the little brooke of Dover becke,
And so as that Brooke runns through the Midle of the Town of Cathorp thence by the
said brooke of Dover beck where it was wont to runn of ancient time unto the water of
Trent, And so the aforesaid water untill it come against the Abbey of Shelford; So that
the said Abbey is out of the fforrest, And afterwards by the said River of Trent where
of ancient time it used to runn (viz.) on the East side the new course now of Trent nnto
the Mannor of Colwicke, And there where the water of Trent was wont to runn, So that
the Limitts there called Hekin is within the fforrest, And from thence by the said River
unto Nottingham Bridge called Heathbecke Briggs and from thence by the South part
of the Meadows of Nottingham unto the Castle there."
In passing over this forest, I observed, that it is now, in a great measure, enclosed between Blyth and Nottingham. As many parts of it is but thinly inhabited, at present,
and in consequence of the enclosure, you meet with a great variety of roads, branching
here and there; handposts would be found extremely useful to a stranger. They are at
all times, in such places, the most civil things he meets with, but rarely seen here.
As to the age of the forest, it is beyond any known record. It was a royal domain
long before the conquest.
Manwood, on Forest Laws, defines it thus:—
"A Forest is a vast extensive wood; in French lieu foretier et sauvage: in Latin Locus
sylvestris et sa tuosus.
"A forest is a certain territory of woody grounds, and fruitful pastures, privileged
for wild beasts, and fowls of forest, chase, and warren, to rest and abide there in the safe
protection of the king, for his princely delight and pleasure: which territory of ground
so privileged, is meered and bounded by unremoveable marks, meers, and boundaries,
either known by matter of record, or else by prescription, and also replenished with wild
beasts of venery or chase; and with great coverts of vert (fn. 2) for the succour of the said
wild beasts; for the preservation and continuance of which said place, together with the
vert and venison, there are certain particular laws, privileges, and officers belonging only
to the same.
The manner of making forests, as the same author informs us, is as follows:—"The
king sends out his commission, under the great seal of England, directed to certain discreet persons, for the view, perambulation, meeting and bounding of the place he mindeth
to be a forest, which being returned into the chancery, proclamation is made throughout
all the shire where the ground lieth, that none shall hunt or chase any manner of wild
beasts in that precinct, without the king's special licence; after which he appointeth ordinances, laws, and officers fit for the preservation of the vert and venison; and so it
becometh a forest by matter of record."
Kings, whose property forests were, in many instances punished those with the greatest
severity who hunted and killed beasts therein without leave. In the conqueror's time it
was lawful to put out the eyes of a man who killed either a buck or a boar. (fn. 3)
Beasts of the forest are denominated to be: The hart, hind, buck, hare, boar, and
wolf, legally all beasts of venery.
It cannot be foreign to our purpose to notice Robin Hood, under this head, of whom
much has been said, and but little known to a certainty. His story, however, has been
a favorite subject for the Drama. A pastoral comedy of Robin Hood and Little
John, was printed in 1594. Robin Hood's pastoral May Games, appeared in 1624.—
Robin Hood, an opera, was acted in Bartholamew fair, in 1730. Robin Hood and his
Crew of Soldiers, an interlude, near the same time. Robin Hood, a musical entertainment, was performed at Drury-lane Theatre in 1751; and lastly Shirewood Forest, at
present a favorite opera with the public.
In Rapin's History of England, our renowned hero is noticed to this purpose:—That
about the time of 1199, lived the famous Robin Hood, with his companion Little John,
who were said to infest Yorkshire with their robberies. It has been said Robin Hood
was of the Huntingdon family and by necessity was driven to the course of life he pursued.
The popular and animating story of Robin Hood, which we acknowledge to know
but little of to a certainty, has been the theme of every age, since his time. The songs,
in the Garland, which goes by his name, are simply and historically poetized, & have been
the favorites of the lower orders of mankind for each succeeding age. Who were the
authors of them nobody knows. They were, most probably, written by various hands,
as some have much more the spirit of poetry than others. There remote antiquity is not
doubted; but they, most likely, have been varied agreeably to the phraseology of the
different periods they have been used.
The birth place of our hero is said to be at Loxley, in Staffordshire. (fn. 4) He is made
to be of honourable descent, of which the pedigree inserted from Dr. Stukeley's Palœographia Britanniæ, in the next page, will testify.
The true name therefore of Robin Hood was Robert Fitz-ooth, but agreeable
with the custom of dropping the Norman addition to names, Fitz; and the two last
letters th being turned into D, he was vulgarly called Ood or Hood. The reader will
discover also, that it is probable he might claim the title of Earl of Huntingdon by reason
of John Scot, 10th earl of Huntingdon dying in 1237, without issue, as he was heir by
the female line, as descended from Gilbert de Gaunt, earl of Kyme and Lindsey. This
title, it seems, lay dormant 90 years, after Robert's death, and about ten of the last
days of his life. (fn. 5) His arms were gules two bends engrailed or. (fn. )
The Pedigree of Robin Hood, Earl of Huntington.
From noticing the birth and high connections of Robin Hood, I will notice his life.—
Ingeneously it has been observed that this samed robber might be driven to this course
of life on account of the attainder of himself or relatives, or on account of the intestines
troubles during the reign of Henry the II. when the son of that king was in open rebellion against his father, when devastation, plunder, attainders, and confiscation were
the fatal followers of that unnatural contention. The Ferrers being lords of Loxley,
the birth place of our hero; and Robert de Ferrers manning the castles of Tutbury and
Duffield, in behalf of the prince, William Fitz-ooth, Robert's father, might by his
connections with that family or by some such means be implicated in the guilt and consequences of that rebellion. Thus might it happen, that Robin Hood was possessed of
no paternal estate, and deprived of the title of Earl of Huntingdon; and this might be
also the cause of his taking refuge in woods and forests, to avoid the punishment of his
own, or his father's crimes against the state, where he continued, during his life, in a state
of actual rebellion; where his little army contended a series of years, successfully, against
the power and armies of the king.
Others have conjectured that he was a man of birth and fortune, and had spent his
estate in riotous living, which was the original cause of his taking to that mode of life
for existence, which his nature seemed to point out to him. Whatever might be the
cause of his defection from lawful pursuits, we know not; that the untoward times
which succeeded those of Henry the II. might occasion it, is probable.
This celebrated chief of English archers, it is certain, was an outlaw, with
many of his followers. Historians have placed his chief residence in Yorkshire;
but it is certain, that Shirewood Forest was his favorite haunt. Stow in his annals
calls them renowned thieves. Robin had another favorite place near the sea, in the north
riding of Yorkshire, (fn. 7) called Robin Hood's Bay. Sir Edward Cook, in his third
Institute, p. 197, speaks of Robin Hood, and he observes, that, men of his lawless prosession were called Roberdsmen. The statute at Winchester, 13 of Edward the I. and another the 5th of Edward the III. he observes, were made solely for the punishment of
Roberdsmen, and other felons.
Our hero, it is allowed on all hands, had great skill in archery, and much personal
courage. His humanity and levelling principles are celebrated by Drayton in his PolyOlbion, song XXVI.
From wealthy abbots' chests, and churches' abundant store,
What often times he took he shared amongst the poor:
No Lordly bishop came in lasty Robin's way,
To him before he went but for his pass must pay;
The widow in distress he graciously relieved,
And remedied the wrongs of many a virgin grieved.
"Hearne, in his Glossary, inserts a manuscript note out of Wood, containing a passage
cited from John Major, the Scottish historian, to this purpose: that Robin Hood was indeed an arch robber, but the gentlest thief that ever was: And says, he might have added,
from the Harlein MSS. of John Fordun's Scottish Chronicle, that he was, though a notorious robber, a man of great charity." (fn. 8)
In the vision of Pierce Plowman, written by Robert Longland, a secular Priest and
Fellow of Oriel College, and who flourished in the reign of Edward III. is this passage:
I cannot persitly my Pater Noster as the prist it singeth;
I can rimes of Robinhod and Randal of Chester.
In Anecdotes of Archery is the following little histoy of this great robber:
Tutbury, and other places in the vicinity of his native town, seems to have been the
scene of his juvenile frolics. We afterwards find him at the head of two hundred strong
resolute men, and expert archers, ranging the woods and forests of Nottinghamshire,
Yorkshire, and other parts of the north of England. (fn. 9)
Charton, in his history of Whitby Abbey, page 146, recites, "That in the days of
Abbot Richard this freebooter, when closely pursued by the civil or military power,
found it necessary to leave his usual haunts, and retreating cross the moors that surrounded Whitby, came to the sea coast, where he always had in readiness some small fishing
vessels; and in these putting off to sea, he looked upon himself as quite secure, and held
the whole power of the English nation at defiance. The chief place of his resort at these
times, and where his boats were generally laid up, was about six miles from Whitby,
and is still called Robin Hood's Bay." Tradition further informs us, that in one of
these peregrinations he, attended by his Lieutenant, JOHN LITTLE, went to dine (fn. 10)
with Abbot Richard, who having heard them often famed for their great dexterity in
shooting with the long-bow, begged them after dinner to shew him a specimen thereof;
when to oblige the Abbot, they went up to the top of the Abbey, whence each of them
shot an arrow, which fell not far from Whitby Laths, but on the contrary side of the
lane. In memory of this transaction, a pillar was set up by the Abbot in the place
where each of the arrows fell, which were standing in 1779; each pillar still retaining
the name of the owner of each arrow. Their distance from Whitby Abbey is more
than a measured mile, which seems very far for the flight of an arrow; but when we
consider the advantage a shooter must have from an elevation, so great as the top of the
abbey, situated on a high cliff, the fact will not appear so very extraordinary. These
very pillars are mentioned, and the fields called by the aforesaid names in the old deeds
for that ground, (fn. 11) now in the possession of Mr. Thomas Watson. It appears by his
Epitaph, that Robert Fitz-Ooth lived 59 years after this time (1188); a very long
period for a life abounding with so many dangerous enterprizes, and rendered obnoxious
both to church and state. Perhaps no part of English history afforded so fair an opportunity for such practices, as the turbulent reigns of Richard the I. King John, and
Henry the III.
Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury and chief Justiciary of England, we are told,
issued several proclamations for the suppressing of outlaws; and even set a price on the
head of this hero. Several stratagems were used to apprehend him, but in vain. Force
he repelled by force; nor was he less artful than his enemies. At length being closely
pursued, many of his followers slain, and the rest dispersed, he took refuge in the Priory
of Kirklees, about twelve miles from Leeds, in Yorkshire, the Prioress at that time being
his near relation. Old age, disappointment, and fatigue, brought on disease; a monk
was called in to open a vein, who, either through ignorance or design, performed his
part so ill, that the bleeding could not be stopped. Believing he should not recover, and
wishing to point out the place where his remains might be deposited, he called for his
bow and discharging two arrows, the first fell in the river Calder, the second falling in
the park, marked the place of his sepulture. He died on the 24 of December, in the
year 1247, (fn. 12) as appears by the following epitaph, which was once legible on his tomb,
in Kirklees park; where, though the tomb remains, yet the inscription hath been long
obliterated. It is, however, preserved by Dr. Gale, Dean of York, and inserted from
his papers by Mr. Thoresby, in his Ducat. Leod. and is as follows:
Hear, Undernead Dis Latil Stean,
Laiz Robert Earl of Huntington,
Nea Arcir ver Az Hie Sa Gend,
An Pipl Kauld Im Robin Heud:
Sick Utlaz Az Hi An Iz Men,
Vil England Nivr Si Agen.
Obit 24 Kal. Dekembris, 1247.
It appears that the inscription was long since obliterated although the stone remains
broken and defaced, Mr. Gough has preserved a drawing of it in his Sepulchral Monuments, copied facing page 171. It is said at the end of Robin Hood's Garland, that the
inscription was placed on his gravestone by the Prioress of Birksley, (Kirklees.)
What may be gathered, from the celebrated Robin Hood's Garland, respecting his
birth, life, and family connections, are briefly as follows; by which the reader will find,
who has not condescended to peruse those ancient songs, that this humble relation of him
agrees not, in some instances, with the account above, viz.
The father of Robin was a forester, and could send an arrow two north country miles
at a shoot. That his mother was niece to the famous Guy earl of Warwick whose brother
was a notable 'squire, who lived at Gamewell Hall, in the county of Nottingham. (fn. 13) —
That his uncle, whose name was George Gamewell, was desirous of having our young
hero to live with him; but his attachment was rivetted to field sports and unbounded
freedom: he complyed not with the offer, went to Tutbury to marry a Shepherdess whom
he had seen in Shirewood Forest kill a buck dexterously. Her form, dress and features
are thus simply poetized:
As that word was spoke, Clorinda came by,
The Queen of the Shepherds was she;
And her gown was of velvet as green as the grafs,
And her buskin did reach to her knee:
Her gait it was graceful, her body was straight,
And her countenance it was free from pride:
A bow in her hand, and a quiver of arrows,
Hung dangling by her sweet side.
Her eye-brows were black, ay, and so was her hair,
And her skin was as smooth as glass,
Her visage spoke wisdom and modesty too,
Sets with Robin Hood, such a lass?
After fifteen years of age, we find that he was expert at the use of the bow, which he
used much in the forest, and, we are told, he killed fifteen foresters, who were all buried,
in a row, in one of the church yards in Nottingham. By this time he had about 100
followers. His robberies, frolics, clemency, and charity to the poor, soon became the
theme of all people. He robbed a bishop and the sheriff of Nottinghamshire, and sported
with their persons and characters. He fought with a tinker, a shepherd, and a friar, and
others, who handled him roughly. In the song which relates his great exploits before
Queen Catharine, we have a picture of his dress:—
Robin Hood took his mantle from his back,
It was of Lincoln green,
And sent it by this lovely page,
For a present to the Queen.
In summer time, when leaves grow green,
'Twas a seemly sight to see,
Robin Hood had drest himself,
And all his yeomandre.
He cloath'd his men in Lincoln green,
And himself in scarlet red;
Black hats, white feathers, all alike,
Now hold Robin Hood is rid.
And when he came to London court,
He sell down on his knee:
Thou art welcome Locksley, (fn. 14) said the Queen,
And all thy yeomandre.
In one of these songs we have a description of Little John.
When Robin Hood was about twenty years,
He happened to meet Little John,
A jolly brisk blade, right fit for the trade,
For he was a lusty young man.
Tho' he was called Little, his limbs were all large,
And his stature was seven feet high;
Wherever he came, they quak'd at his name,
For soon he would make them to fly.
After this meeting of Little John and Robin Hood, the ballad informs you that they
fought, in which combat the latter was worsted; but after the fight, a little persuasion
made Little John join this band of merry-making robbers. As the latter part of this
ballad is particularly descriptive of the manner this little host of warriors lived; and
of the changing of John Little's name to that of Little John, and as the poetry is not
the most indifferent in the Garland, I give it here:
There's no one shall wrong thee, friend, be not afraid,
These bowmen upon me do wait.
There are three score and nine; if thou wilt be mine,
Thou shalt have my livery strait
And other accoutrements fitting also:
Speak up, jolly blade, never fear,
I'll teach you also the use of long bow,
To shoot at the fat fallow deer.
O here is my hand, the stranger reply'd,
I'll serve you with all my whole heart;
My name is John Little, a man of good mettle,
Ne'er doubt me for I'll play my part.
His name shall be alter'd, quoth Will Stutely,
And I will his godfather be;
Prepare then a feast, and none of the least,
For we will be merry, quoth he.
They presently fetch'd in a brace of fat does,
With humming strong liquor likewise;
They lov'd what was good; so in the greenwood,
This pretty sweet babe they baptiz'd.
He was, I must tell you, bat seven feet high,
And, may be, an ell in the waist;
He was a sweet lad, much feasting they had;
Robin Hood the christening grac'd,
With all his bowmen, which stood in a ring,
They were of the Nottingham breed;
Brave Stutely came then, with seven yoemen,
And did in his manner proceed;
This infant was called John Little, quoth he,
Which name shall be changed anon,
The words we'll transpose, so where're he goes,
His name shall be call'd Little John.
They all with a shout made the elements ring;
So soon as the office was o'er,
To feasting they went, with true merriment,
And tippled strong liquors, gillore.
Then Robin he took the pretty sweet babe,
And cloath'd him from top to his toe
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
And gave him a curious long bow.
Thou shalt be an archer as well as the best,
And range in the greenwood with us,
Where we'ill not want gold nor silver, behold,
While bishops have aught in their purse
We live here like 'squires or lords of renown,
Without e'er a foot of free land;
We feast on good cheer, with wine, ale, and beer,
And every thing at our command.
Then music and dancing did finish the day,
At length when the fun waxed low,
Then all the whole train the grove did refrain,
And into their caves they did go.
And so ever after, as long as he liv'd,
Although he was proper and tall,
Yet nevertheless, the truth to express,
Still Little John they did him call.
The last ballad speaks of his death after fighting, desperately, with a party of the
king's forces, on the 30th of June, under a valiant knight, who was slain in the contest.
Bold Robin being taken ill soon after.
He sent for a monk, who let him blood,
And took his life away;
Now this being done, his archers did run,
It was not a time to stay.
Some went on board, and cross'd the seas,
To Flanders, France, and Spain,
And others to Rome, for fear of their doom,
But soon returned again.—
Thus he, that never fear'd bow nor spear,
Was murder'd by letting of blood.
And so, loving friend, the story doth end
Of valiant bold Robin Hood.
From Robin Hood arose these proverbial expressions, first in the county of Nottingham, and then all over England. (fn. 15)
Many talk of Robin Hood who never shot in his bow.
This certainly alludes to people who talk of things beyond their knowledge.
To sell Robin Hood's penny-worths.—This alludes to things sold come lightly by.
In a small grove, part of the cemetery belonging to Kirklees Priory, is a large
flat gravestone, on which is carved the figure of a Cross de Calvary, extending the whole
length of the stone, and round the margin is inscribed in Monastic characters:—
Dovce: Ihu: De: Nazareh: Donne: Mercy: Elizabeth: De: Stanton:
Priores: de: Cette Maison. (fn. 16)
The lady whose memory is here recorded, is said to have been related to Robin Hood,
and under whose protection he took refuge sometime before his death. These being
the only monuments, remaining at the place make it probable, at least, that they have
been preserved on account of the supposed affinity of the persons over whose remains
they were erected.
R. Hood's mother had two sisters, (fn. 17) each older than herself. The first married
Roger Lord Mowbray; the other married into the family of Wake. As neither of
these could be prioress of Kirklees, Eliz. Stanton might be one of their descendants. (fn. 18)
Of Little John's death, or more properly John Little, which was his true name,
who was supposed to be a very tall man, and Robin Hood's prime counsellor, we have
Antiquarian Rep. Vol. 3, p. 140.
From a loose paper in Mr. Ashmoles hand-writing, Oxford Museum.
"The famous Little John, Robin Hood's companion, lies buried in Hathersage
church-yard, in the Peak of Derbyshire, with one stone at his head, another at his feet,
each of which, sometime since, had some remains of the letters I. L. and part of his
bow hangs up in the chancel, anno 1652."
Near the Abbey, Leicester, stands an upright ponderous forest stone, which goes by
the name of Little John's stone; but for what reason none can tell.
St. Ann's Well,
Near Nottingham, was, it it said, a sequestered haunt of the famous Robin Hood, which
tradition has given celebrity to for ages. It is situate within two miles North East
of Nottingham, on the base of a hill, which a century ago, or less, was covered with fine
ash trees and copice, as well as a great part of the adjacent fields, which are now cleared
of wood, and is become good land; some portion of which still retains the name of
copice and belongs to the Burgesses of Nottingham. The house which is resorted to in
summer time, stands near the Well, both which are shaded by firs and other trees.—
Here is a large bowling-green, and a little neglected pleasure ground.
The Well is under an arched stone roof, of rude workmanship, the water is very
cold, it will kill a toad.—See figure 1.—It is used by those who are afflicted with
rheumatic pains; and indeed, like many other popular springs, for a variety of
disorders. At the house were formerly shewn several things said to have belonged to
Robin Hood; but they are frittered down to what are now called his cap, or helmet,
and a part of his chair. As these have passed current for many years, and perhaps ages,
as things once belonging to that renowned robber, I sketched them. They are represented on the annexed plate.
A remarkable circumstance happened here about fifty years since. The story is told
thus: A regiment of dragoons lay at Nottingham, at that time, and five of the men
agreed to go a deer-stealing, for which purpose they traversed, in the night, over a great
extent of country, in vain. Chagrined at the disappointment, in passing over an eminence called Shepherd's-Race, near St. Ann's Well, two of them agreed to go down the
hill and steal some geese belonging to the people who lived at St. Ann's Well. A young
man who was a servant in the family, and had been out late in company instead of going
to bed layed himself down upon a table in a room, or some other ready and convenient
place, where he slept sometime; but was awaked by the noise of the frighted geese,
which were disturbed by the soldiers attempting to steal them. The young man being
a little elevated in liquor had the temerity to go from the house with an intent to protect
his master's or mistress's property, in which attempt he was shot through the head, by a
piece placed so near him that his brains were seen scattered about him, were he fell, in a
variety of directions.
The particulars concerning this murder did not come out till about 20 years after the
transaction, when two old pensioners, from Chelsea Hospital, were taken up for the fact,
and brought to Nottingham gaol; but it turned out that the principals, in the horrid
deed, were dead.
Which I had occasion to mention in the above narrative, is a place much resorted to,
and is represented, fig. 2.
It is cut on the summit of a hill near St. Ann's Well, and appears to be cut out of
the turf for a place of exercise. Opinions vary about this as well as other things of
this sort: where history is silent the ingenuity of man supplies the place. Dr. Stukely
supposes it Roman. Deering says, "it seems to be a name of no old standing." It is
on a common belonging to Sneinton, given to that village by the Pierponts, and the last
author judges its name to have been given by the shepherds using it since that time as
an amusement in running it. "It is evidently, he says, from the cross-croslets in the
centres of the four lesser rounds; and in that there are no banks raised but circular
trenches cut into the turf, and those so narrow that persons cannot run in them, but must
run on the top of the turf," that it is of no Roman origin, and yet is more ancient than
the reformation. He farther adds, as an opinion, "that it was made by some priests.
belonging to St. Ann's Chapel, who being confined so as not to venture out of fight
or hearing, contrived this to give themselves a breathing for want of other exercises."
I perceived a number of the initials of names cut in the turs about the Shepherd's-race,
done by those, I am told, who have run it; and I also saw two or three humble imitations of this celebrated race cut, on a small scale, out of the turs near it.
This maze or labyrinth is 17 or 18 yards square. At the angles are four oval projections facing the four cardinal points; the distance of the extremities of which are 34
yards or thereabouts.
At Clifton, also, there is one of this sort; but dissimilar in formation.
After what has been said of this ancient Forest, both with respect to its antiquity as a
forest, extent, and its former splendour, and its present, with regard to appearance, degradation, it will be no unentertaining portion of this history to relate here, the discoveries of ancient things, that have been made upon this royal domain. It may shew,
that in very remote times, it was a chosen spot for a tribe of the aborigines of this
island, or at least, of the Romans, who subdued them. It is but justice, however, to
preface this part of the seventh Section, with an acknowledgement to Hayman Rooke,
Esq. of Mansfield Woodhouse, in this county, for the favour of part of the materials
with which the account of Shirewood Forest is concluded; a gentleman whose zeal for
the furtherance of this history has been testified, to me, by the most liberal and candid
Near Blidworth, on Shirewood Forest, is a singular Rock, represented in the subjoined
plate. The only account Mr. Rooke could get of it was, that it has been there time
immemorial. Upon a close examination, it appears to be a kind of natural cement of
gravel and sand, but whether not of art it is not easy to discern. It stands on a rock,
the ground sloping on every side. Part of it is hollow, which probably might have been
excavated by the ancient Britons, for some mysterious purposes. We find from the
druidical monuments which have been discovered, in this island, many remarkable rocks
that have evidently had the assistance of the tool in their formation, and these, we have
reason to suppose were held sacred by the Druids. Mr. R. cannot help thinking, that,
this very singular rock would not pass unnoticed by the superstitious Britons.
The circumference of the rock, near the bottom, is 48 feet. Hight 14.
The ruined chapel of Kimberly, represented in the same plate, with the rock, has not
much relationship to the Forest as a Forest; it stands without its boundaries; but was
taken on an excursion into the Forest, in 1792.—It has but little about it to attract attention, and is not so much as mentioned in Thoroton's history of the village, which by
his account, was but a small place about two centuries ago, now it is of considerable
magnitude. It is in the parish of Greisly. The village is one of the most romantic,
I have seen, in these parts. Its site is extraordinarily diversified: some of the dwellings
perch upon the eminence, others sit snugly on the side, and some on the base: comparing
little things with great, the travelling of an infect over a succession of ant-hills, is like
that of a man over the lanes or passages through this village.
King John's Palace as a ruin, on the same plate, is scarcely noticed by Thoroton. He
tells us, however, it was burnt; but whether he means the building here represented, or
the village of Clipston, under which head he has noticed it, and near which it stands, is
not certain. The view is N. W.
This ruin stands on the Forest, and was a palace for our kings, so early as the reign
of Henry II. King John, before and after he was King, frequently resided here; it
was considered as his favorite dwelling. Hence his charter granted to Nottingham, in
the first year of his reign, is dated. A Parliament was held here by Edward I. 1290,
and an old oak, at the edge of the Park, long bore the name of Parliament Oak.—
Edward II. and III. visited this palace. Henry VI. gave it with the manor, to Edmund
earl of Richmond and Jasper earl of Pembroke. In Henry the VIIIth's reign, it was
granted to the then duke of Norfolk. It afterwards passed to the earl of Warwick,
and Henry Sidney. By them it was forfeited, and was attached to the crown till James
the First's reign, when it passed to the feoffees of Gilbert earl of Shrewsbury. It was
afterwards in the Newcastle family, and now is the property of the duke of Portland.
Its park is nearly eight miles in circumference, and has been famed for its fine oaks,
which were partly destroyed during the troubles in the last century.
Antiquities upon Shirewood Forest, and in the Neighbourhood of
In the year 1786, Hayman Rooke, Esq. of Mansfield Woodhouse, discovered, within a mile and half of that Village, two Roman Villæ. What led to this discovery
was his having seen several small Tesseræ, which the Romans used in their pavements,
said to have been found in the north fields, where, in digging about a foot below the
surface, the labourers came to a wall, which, by following, Mr. Rooke traced out a
complete Villa Urbana; (fn. 19) consisting of nine rooms and a hypocaust. See the plan,
(A) in No. 1. In clearing out the earth, which was a foot deep to the floors, the walls
of most of the rooms appeared to have been stuccoed and painted in stripes of purple,
red, yellow, and green. In the centre room, marked (b) in the plan, is part of a very
elegant Mosaic Pavement; this room was probably the triclinium, or dining-room.
The entrance of this Villa seems to have been on the east front, into a narrow cryptoporticus, marked (c) with painted walls and a tesselated pavement; the cubes near
an inch square of a light stone colour; at one end of the cryptoporticus is the hypocaust
(d) to which the heat was conveyed through an arch under the wall from the other side,
where the fire was made, and a quantity of ashes found.
At about fourteen feet from the north-west end of this Villa, was a building, marked
(e) which he imagines was a necessary convenience.
The Villa Rustica, marked (F) in the plan, certainly belonged to the Villa Urbana,
the distance being only ten yards from the north-east end. This Villa consists of thirteen small rooms, two hypocausts, a cold bath, and, what Mr. Rooke then thought, a
court in the centre, but as he has since discovered a fire-place in the middle, he thinks it
must have been covered in; three of these rooms had painted walls, in that on the east
end, near the hypocaust and cold bath, which he supposes to have been the apodyterium,
or stripping room, the colours were remarkably bright. In clearing out the large hypocaust (g) several pieces of a smooth stucco floor were found, which Mr. Rooke supposes
to have been the floor of the Sudatorium and calida lavatio over the hypocaust. In
the inside wall of the little room were fixed two oblong bases of pillars, marked (h) in
the plan. Three more of the same kind were discovered about three months after, in a
line with the other two, these are marked (b) in the plan; on the tops of these stone
bases are grooves, but as they are not all of the same dimensions, Mr. R. does not imagine
they were intended for pillars, but rather supposes, they were bases of altars, dedicated
to local deities.
At about one hundred yards south-east of the Villa Urbana, Mr. Rooke discovered
two Roman sepulchres—see (i) and (k) nothing remains of (i) but the foundation; the
other was more perfect. The remains of the side walls were about one foot under
ground, in clearing two feet of earth, he came to a stucco floor, which covered one
large flat stone and two or three small ones. These were laid over a cist or little vault,
seven feet long, two wide, and one foot six inches deep: This was full of a very light
kind of earth; in the bottom stood an Urn, containing ashes, which had been cracked
by the weight of the earth, and fell to pieces on being removed. Two small bones of
the arm, two rib bones, and four or five joints of the back bone, lay scattered in the
bottom; these were what probably had escaped the fire and were afterwards deposited with the urn. Between the two sepulchres is a pavement seven feet square,
marked, (l) in the centre was a kind of pedestal, part of it broken; on this probably
was placed a stone with a sepulchral inscription, fragments of which were found in clearing away the earth from the pavement, but, not being able to recover them all, Mr. R.
could not make out the inscription.
Many fragments of pateræ and pots of different kind of Roman ware, were picked
up in clearing out the rooms, some of a dark colour, thin, hard, and elegantly ornamented
with indented work; a small patera of the best kind of red ware had ALBVS, the
maker's name, in Roman capitals, at the bottom. Several pieces of a large stage's horns
were found, some had been sawed off, one piece, in particular, had been sawed and
smoothed on each side, and stamped with a circular mark. Many bones of animals,
boar's tusks, and some remarkable large teeth, supposed to have been horses, were found
in both Villæ. (fn. 20)
Antiquities found in the Villa
see No. 2.
A. The top of a Lamp of yellow pottery.
B. A Brass Nipper which still retains its elasticity.
C. A piece of a Cullender.
D. Part of a circular Ornament with narrow borders of a yellow metal, within these
it has the appearance of green enamel, but now much defaced.
E. Seems to have been part of a brass sibula, it was found sticking to the coulter of a
plough, in a field near the villa.
F. Three Ivory Pins.
G. Part of a Brass Ornament, which has now a fine green polish.
H. Seems to have been a kind of Strigil or Rubber, which the Romans used to rub
their skins with. It is of a pale grey colour, the bottom smooth; the indented rim was
probably intended for fixing a cloth round it, when a more gentle friction was required.
I. An Iron Key much conoded by rust.
Several Roman Coins were found, some very small, three of Constantine very perfect,
the heads of the others hardly perceptible except one of Claudius Gothicus, and one of
Mr. Rooke thinks it probable that the Romans had a station at Mansfield, though
not mentioned in any of the Itineraries; several Roman Coins have been found there, four
Mr. R. has in his possession, one of Vespasian and one of Constantinus, very perfect; the
other two appear to be Antoninus pius and Marcus Aurelius. There are remains of
several little exploratory Camps in the neighbourhood, one is at the end of Mansfield
Woodhouse, on a little eminence called Winny Hill; the double ditch and vallum are
perfect in some places, but most of it has been destroyed by the road which goes to
Ollerton. On the Forest, within three miles of Mansfield, are some remains of another
Camp on a hill that slopes down to a little brook called Rainworth Water, which divides
Mansfield and Blidworth parishes. (fn. 21)
On the South-East end of Shirewood Forest, and within two miles of the village of
Arnold, is part of a very extensive Roman Camp, see the plan in (a) in No. 3. where (b)
is the prætorium, or place where the General pitched his tent; this camp is situated
on an elevated spot called Holly-Hill, commanding an extensive view towards Mansfield, and supposed to be the highest ground on the Forest; this Mr. Rooke thinks was
the principal camp of the main body of the Roman army, in these parts. This ground
has been lately enclosed, so that probably there may be now no traces of this camp to be
seen. The progress of a Roman army through this part of Nottinghamshire, is strongly
marked by the size and situation of this camp, which is not above five miles from Nottingham, the Causennæ of the Romans.
In a field called Lovely-Grange, not far from Oxton, is another Roman camp, see the
plan (c) in No. 3. About a mile west of this is another small exploratory camp, see the
plan: (d) It goes by the name of Oldox, which probably means old works. At the
distance of one mile north-east, is a farm situated on an eminence called the Combs,
where a Roman camp is plainly to be made out; see the plan, (e) here Mr. R. found
several Roman bricks and tiles, which the farmers told him they frequently turned up
in ploughing. At about fifty yards to the north, is a circular vallum of earth, near forty
yards diameter, part of it has lately been destroyed by the plough, see (f) At about
three miles and a half north-east of the Combs, near the village of Kirklington, is a hill
called Hexgrave Park, where there are evident marks of an encampment. The ditch
and vallum here and there perfect. These small camps command extensive views over
the Forest towards Mansfield and are visible from the great camp on Holly-Hill, from
whence intelligence might be conveyed by signals. Roman Coins have been found in
and near these camps. Mr. Rooke has got three, two of the middle brass, the heads
only distinguishable; these were found near the camp at Aldox; the other in his possession, is of the larger brass, supposed to be Antoninus Pius; on the reverse is a figure
half naked, with a hasta in the right hand, and the other resting on the left knee, with the
letters S. C. Senatus Consulto; the legend totally desaced. This was found near Arnold, and several others have been picked up on that part of Holly-Hill, that has been
On the 20th of October, 1789, Mr. Rooke, opened a large Barrow on Shirewood
Forest, near Oxton, which measured 159 feet in circumference. In digging about seven
feet and a half from the top to a little below the level soil, he discovered an Urn, see (a)
in the subjoined plate, half full of ashes, and covered with a piece of coarse baked earth;
on examining the Urn, he found it was made of iron, and much corroded with rust; on
one side, and at the bottom is a piece of wood, marked (b) which sticks to the Urn, and
several small pieces were found near it. Mr. R. thinks there is great reason to suppose,
that, this urn was deposited in the Barrow, in a wooden case. Near the urn was a Sword
in a wooden scabbard, two feet six inches in length, and four inches broad. In taking
it up, it broke into seven pieces; the wood, when pressed, mouldered into dust. Near
the end of the sword, fifteen Glass Beads were picked up, some green, others clouded
with yellow, and some of deep yellow. See their size marked (c) in the plate.
Mr. Rooke thinks it probable, that, these beads were deposited as amulets; not being perforated they could not be used as ornaments, and when so found, the barrow is
generally thought to be the sepulchre of a woman. The finding beads and arms together, Mr. R. thinks is very remarkable, and believes, this is the only instance where
they have been discovered with weapons. (fn. 22)
In the same plate, (d) is an Iron Dagger, which broke in taking up. It has been in a
wooden scabbard, bits of which now adhere to the rust, and are distinguished in the
drawing by the light parts. (e) Is an Iron Instrument of a singular shape; the sides
are flat, the point plainly appears to have been broken off, and upon it is a thin coat of
smooth yellow rust, which probably may be owing to some acid quality in that part of
the earth where it was found: (f) seems to be an iron weapon, with a hole at the end for
a staff, very much corroded with rust. The Brass Key at the bottom of the plate, was
found on Shirewood Forest, in making a new road from Kirkby to join that which goes
from Mansfield to Nottingham. The singular shape of this key, and the green rust
that it has acquired from age, make Mr. R. inclined to think it is the work of a Roman
artist. In Montseueon there is a key whose wards exactly resemble this.