Robin Hood's Grave (Holbeck)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Coordinate 53.239236, -1.192017
Adm. div. Nottinghamshire
Vicinity In Holbeck; c. 25 m NE of Blue Barn Farm and c. 20 m E of Blue Barn Lodge
Type Natural feature
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Defunct
First Record 1839
A.k.a. Robins Greave; Gorse Covert; Gorse Copse
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Robin's Greave aka Robin Hood's Grave.
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Top: Two suggested locations for Robin Hood's Grave; that of Dobson & Taylor to the left; that of the Historical Gazetteer of England's Place-Names to the right. Below: the actual location of Robin's Greave aka Robin Hood's Grave.
Looking towards Robin's Greave aka Robin Hoods' Grave / Google Earth Street View.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-10-07. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-04-25.

Robin Hood's Grave, a locality near Holbeck (Nottinghamshire), whose nature and precise location have long been minor mysteries, is in fact a gorse copse c. 25 meters northeast of Blue Barn Farm and c. 20 meters east of Blue Barn Lodge, approximately at the centre of a triangle formed by Holbeck, Cuckney and Langwith.

Gover, Mawer and Stenton in the English Place-Name Society's volume on Nottinghamshire list this place-name under Holbeck parish, referring to a c. 1840 tithe award and an unspecified and undated 6" O.S. map.[1] They cite the name given in the tithe award as 'Robins Grave', that in the 6" O.S. map as 'Robin Hood's Grave'. According to Dobson & Taylor, Robin Hood's Grave was '[a]pparently a cave'.[2] It is not clear why they thought so, but as Nottinghamshire is a county with many caves, perhaps this was a mere guess. Frank E. Earp, the author of a recent book on Nottinghamshire lore, states categorically that 'this site is in fact a cave' and it 'does not feature on any other map of the county' than the tithe map.[3] He cites no source, but he seems to have nearly all his basic information on Robin Hood place-names from Dobson & Taylor. I have not been able to locate the map referred to by Gover, Mawer and Stenton among the myriad maps online at the National Library of Scotland's website, but not all O.S. maps are (yet) online there.

Dobson & Taylor tentatively suggest a location 'near Sheet 112 SK:540730?', which translates to a square, 100 by 100 m, whose SW corner is at 53.251274,-1.192124.[4] This is indicated top left on one of the interactive maps below, while the pointer top right on the same map indicates an alternative location suggested at the Historical Gazetteer of England's Place-Names.[5] At neither location is there any suggestion of the presence of a cave. The Notts Guided Walking Programme for 2010 offered a walk "to Holbeck, back via Greaves Wood to look for Robin Hood's grave. The Nottinghamshire place-name book says 'It's somewhere here'!".[6] Evidently people with local knowledge no longer know where or what the grave is.

The unspecified tithe award of c. 1840 cited by the three place-name researchers turns out to be for Cuckney, carrying the dates 1839 and 1841 and also covering Holbeck and Bonbusk. The place-name listed there is 'Robins Greave',[7] not grave. The writing is quite clear. At the location indicated on the tithe map, the O.S. maps listed below have a "Gorse Covert" or "Gorse Copse", which can also be seen at the position indicated near the bottom of the Google satellite map below. Thus Robin became Robin Hood and the greave, i.e. thicket or copse, became a grave.[8]


Printed and web sources

MS sources



Also see