Robin Hood's Hills (Kirkby in Ashfield)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Coordinate 53.0878, -1.2296
Adm. div. Nottinghamshire
Vicinity 2.9 km SSE of Kirkby in Ashfield
Type Natural feature
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Extant
First Record 1774
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Robin Hood's Hills.
Photo of 'the Robin Hood's Hills as you first see them from Shoulder of Mutton Hill in Annesley' / Courtesy Rich. Also see uncropped photo in gallery below.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-10-03. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-03-22. Photos courtesy Rich.

Robin Hood's Hills in Kirkby Forest (formerly part of Sherwood Forest) not quite 3 km SSE of Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, are a group of sandstone hillocks forming a natural amphitheatre, their highest point being 195 m above sea level. In the immediate vicinity are found Robin Hood's Chair and Robin Hood's Cave. The name "Robin Hood's Hills" is first recorded on John Chapman's map of Nottinghamshire, published 1776 based on a survey carried out in 1774.[1] The hills now form the NW boundary of Kirkby Forest Golf Course.[2] Some 1.25 km SSW of Robin Hood's Hills and the Chair, 325 m NW of New Annesley, was the Robin Hood public house.

Michael R. Evans argues that the 'boscus vocatus Robynhill' – 'wood called Robynhill' – mentioned in the c. 1163 foundation charter of the Augustinian Priory of Newstead, preserved in the priory's 1286 chartulary, should be identified with Robin Hood Hills.[3] Since Robin Hood Hills are located c. 3.25 km NW of Newstead Abbey and several other localities mentioned in the charter are still closer to the abbey, this is quite plausible, but it should perhaps be noted that, though this has not been found recorded earlier than 1884, there is also a Robin Hood Hill c. 9 km due east of the abbey. The gap in the record from c. 1163 to 1884 is long, but so also is that between c. 1163 and the first occurrence of the name "Robin Hood's Hills" in 1774. That 'Robin' may well become 'Robin Hood' is hardly surprising given the popularity of the outlaw.

A visitor from Australia, most probably in 2014, visited the locality during a ramble in Nottinghamshire:

We slid under more barbed wire and onto Kirkby Forest golf course where we discreetly followed a track which took us behind a plantation within earshot of the A611. Strictly speaking we were trespassing. I am normally a law abiding walker but I felt I had a right to my horizon. We were walking over heathland, vanilla scented gorse bushes in full bloom, patches of dead bracken and dark sandy soil. These were Robin Hood’s Hills, the highest hills in the county at a modest 180 metres. We came out on a sandstone bluff, looking down on the remains of Annesley colliery with its distinctive red and white pithead tower. Annesley colliery is a conservation area because of the variety of different buildings on the site, but sadly is in a state of decay. Beyond the colliery we could see Newstead village and beyond that, Nottingham. We were at the furthest and highest point of the horizon from my house, nine miles [c. 15 km] away as the crow flies.[4]

Many thanks to Rich – who is not from Australia – for his excellent photo of Robin Hood's Hills, which you can see below. Other photos of his can be found on the pages on Robin Hood's Cave (Kirkby in Ashfield) and Robin Hood's Chair (Kirkby in Ashfield).


1841 - Hall, Spencer Timothy - Forester's Offering (1)

Leaving this melancholy monument of feudal animosity [sc. an unfinished manor house near Annesley Woodhouse], by the farm-house I have mentioned, you come in a walk of about half a mile to the ridge of those wild, grey, ferny uplands, Robin Hood's Hills, over which, most probably, Washington Irving has already taken you, in his delightful reminiscences of Newstead Abbey. You have rested at the top — you have gazed again and again on the countless hamlets, and halls, and cottages, and spires which stud the beautiful, far-stretching, western landscape, to where it closes with the sky up amid the Peaks of Derbyshire — and you have recognised the old farm-house at Grives, sending its long, long wreath of blue smoke gracefully upcurling in the still, pure sunshine, below you, but where is the romantic little glen you so recently rejoiced in? Conscious as you are that it can not be more than half a mile distant, see you no pleasant sign of its locality? None! any more than if it had been opened by enchantment just for the occasion, and then immediately closed again forever![5]





Also see


  1. Chapman, John, cartog. Nottingham Shire Survey'd in 1774 ([London], 1776); not seen, but cf. Gover, J.E.B.; Mawer, Allen; Stenton, F.M. The Place-Names of Nottinghamshire (English Place-Name Society, vol. XVII) (Cambridge, 1940), p. 122. Dobson, R. B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), p. 302, s.n. 'Robin Hood's Hills', incorrectly refer to "Chapman and André's 1775 Map of Nottinghamshire" (their italics).
  2. See 6" O.S. maps dated 1921 and later in Maps section below.
  3. Evans, Michael. 'Robynhill, or Robin Hood's Hills? Place-Names and the Evolution of the Robin Hood Legends', Journal and Seventy-Fifth Annual Report of the English Place-Name Society, vol. 30 (1998), pp. 43–51, see p. 43. Also see IRHB's page 1324 - Louis, count of Flanders - Letter to Edward II or III.
  4. Rising to Gale: Wellington/Melbourne: Walking my horizon: Nottingham; formerly at; see page capture from 25 April 2017 at the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. IRHB's brackets
  5. Hall, Spencer Timothy. The Forester's Offering (London, 1841), p. 18.