1832 - Scott, Walter - Inscription for Robin Hood's Well

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Date 1808-1832
Author Scott, Walter?
Title Inscription for Robin Hood's Well
Mentions Robin Hood's Well (Fountains Abbey or Fountains Earth); bow; quiver

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-07-23. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.


Beside this crystal font of old
Cooled his flushed brow an outlaw bold
His bow was slackened while he drank,
His quiver rested on the bank,
Giving brief pause of doubt and fear
To feudal lords and forest deer.
Long since the date — but village sires
Still sing his feats by Christmas fires,
And still old England's free-born mood
Stirs at the name of Robin Hood.[1]

IRHB comments

According to W.C. Lefroy, who cites John Richard Walbran as his source, Walter Scott wrote these lines as an inscription for an arch which was to be built over Robin Hood's Well in the Fountains Abbey grounds. During a visit he was so fascinated with the story of Robin Hood's fight with, and subsequent ducking in the Skell by, the Curtal Friar within the abbey grounds close to the well that he suggested to Elizabeth Sophia Lawrence, the owner of the abbey grounds and ruins, that a cover or house be built over the well. This was done, but apparently without the inscription. Walbran (1817-69), among whose papers this story and the lines attributed to Scott are found, was a leading 19th century authority on Fountains Abbey, and the story may be true, but it is not mentioned in any of Scott's letters or by his chief biographer. Grainge[2] cited the verse in 1863 in the context of a discussion of Robin Hood's Well in Fountains Earth in Nidderdale without any mention of the Fountains Abbey locality and without attributing the lines to Walter Scott (or anybody else for that matter). Since Elizabeth Sophia Lawrence (1760-1845) inherited Fountains Abbey in 1808 and Walter Scott died in 1832, the visit to the abbey, if it happened, must have taken place in the period 1808-32. See further Robin Hood's Well (Fountains Abbey).

Variant readings

Line Lefroy Grainge Lefroy Grainge Lefroy Grainge Lefroy Grainge
1 font fount old old,
2 Cooled Cool'd flushed flush'd an — an bold bold;
5 fear fear,
6 deer. deer: —
7 date — date, sires sires,
8 fires, fires;
9 free-born free born, mood mood,




Also see