Robin Hood's Hill (Gloucester)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Coordinate 51.8339, -2.2325
Adm. div. Gloucestershire
Vicinity In Matson, c. 3.3 km SSE of central Gloucester
Type Natural feature
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Defunct?
First Record 1542
A.k.a. Robins-wood; Robin's Wood; Robin's Wood Hill; Robinhoods Hill; Mattesknoll; Matson Hill
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Robin Hood's Hill, now Robin's Wood Hill.
Robin Hood's Hill viewed from the SSE / Google Earth Street View.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-08-15. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-03-22.

The prominent tree-covered hill in the parish of Matson, c. 3.3 km SSE of central Gloucester, which used to be known inter alia as 'Robin Hood's Hill', is now officially named Robin's Wood Hill. It is first mentioned in a 1542 act concerning the conduits of Gloucester, '[e]mpowering the Mayor and Dean of Gloucester to break ground in Matson alias Robin Hood's Hill and to convey water from the springs there to the city',[1] and next figures in the 1624 edition of a work by Giraldus Cambrensis, where its name is given as both 'Robinhoodes Hill' and 'Mattesknoll',[2] which latter form is reflected in the (presumably) modern form 'Matson Hill' cited by Dobson & Taylor.[3] In Samuel Rudder's History of Gloucestershire (1779), the hill is referred to as 'Robin-Hood's hill'.[4] However, Taylor's map of Gloucestershire, published in 1777, cites the name as 'Robins-wood'.[5] According to A. H. Smith, "The name may well recall that of the family of Robins who had been tenants of the manor [...] and in 1526 obtained a 70-year lease of Matson [...], but Robin's Wood was by popular etymology changed at an early date to that of Robin Hood of the ballads."[6] A 'Robins Farm' is located c. 700 m ENE of the hill (see maps listed in Maps section below). A correspondent to Notes & Queries noted in 1855 that:

The other outlying hill, Robin's Wood, or Robinhood's, distant about four and a half miles S., singularly analogous in outline to Chosen [a.k.a. Churchdown], is of similar formation, viz. marlstone, though it is capped with a portion of the lower oolite.[7]

There is an excellent view of Gloucester from the top of Robin Hood's Hill, a fact soon noted by publishers of photographic postcards, who on the other hand seem to have been less interested in photographing the hill itself. In former times there was a beacon on the top of Robin Hood's Hill. This is indicated on all the 6" O.S. maps available online at NLS (see Maps section below) with the label "Beacon (Site of)".


1831 - Lewis, Samuel - Topographical Dictionary of England (04)

The market days [in Gloucester] are Wednesday and Saturday, and there is a market for live stock on the first Monday in every month: the markets were formerly held in the open streets, but two large and commodious market-houses have been erected one in Eastgate-street, for the sale of corn, meat, poultry, and vegetables; and the other in Southgate-street, for fish, butter, &c.: in front of the latter are two conduits, supplied with water from the reservoir at Robin Hood’s hill. The cattle market is held in a spacious area judiciously appropriated to the purpose. The fairs are, April 5th, July 5th, September 28th and 29th (for cheese), and November 28th.[8]