Robin Hood's Cross (Hampole)

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Coordinate 53.586843, -1.236471
Adm. div. West Riding of Yorkshire
Vicinity In Hampole, in or slightly SW of Barnsdale
Type Monument
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Defunct
First Record 1537
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Site of Hampole Priory.
The base of Skellow Market Cross / Rod Jacobsen, 2011.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-17. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-11.

What is so far the only known mention of Robin Hood's Cross at Hampole occurs in a report of the interrogations of Sir Thomas Percy about his role in the Pilgrimage of Grace and Bigod's Rebellion (see 1537 Allusion below). Thomas Percy was subsequently convicted of treason and hanged. Gairdner noted that the 'little nunnery beyond Doncaster' mentioned in the report was 'Hampall',[1] i.e. Hampole Priory, which is confirmed by another contemporary examination report that does not mention the cross but explicitly states that the rebels 'for that night lodged under Hampall the nunnery',[2] the night in question being 27 Oct. 1536. The manoeuvres of the rebel forces and skirmishes with a loyalist detachment in or near Barnsdale are treated in detail by Dodds,[3] who also mentions the brief encampment near Robin Hood's Cross.

Hampole Priory

A George Nicholson made three drawings of 'Hampole Priory, Yorkshire' in 1822 (see Image Gallery below), but most likely the buildings in these drawings were later than the priory, for PastScape is not far from the truth when noting that '[t]here are no extant remains of the priory other than a quantity of re-used masonry incorporated in the buildings adjoining the site'.[4] Part of the priory grounds is now a private garden. I have indicated the site on the interactive map, with the leftmost of the two markers, immediately east of Main Street and immediately north of Leys Lane in the hamlet of Hampole.[5] This is slightly southwest of Barnsdale, c. 2 km SW of Robin Hood's Well. Given the proximity to the well, it is of course possible that 'Cross' in the interrogation report is a mistake for 'Well', but on the other hand a cross near Hampole Priory may also, for one reason or another, have been named after the outlaw. If the cross stood on priory grounds, it may have become a victim of the destruction that accompanied the dissolution of the monasteries. This might explain why the name 'Robin Hood's Cross' is not heard of subsequently. It was noted in 1951 that '[t]he present grass track from Bilham Row to Hampole was once known as Two Cross Way and fragments of one of the two crosses set up for the pilgrims [flocking to the place where the hermit Richard of Hampole had lived] still remain'.[6] One of these two crosses could have been known as 'Robin Hood's Cross'. The area in which Hampole Priory was situated was Robin Hood country par excellence.

Skellow Market Cross

Another possibility is that the cross referred to is Skellow Market Cross aka the Buttercross. Its location seems close enough to Hampole to match the situation implied in the phrase 'a little nunnery beyond Doncaster, besides Robin Hood's Cross' (see 1537 allusion below), for the Market Cross, of which now only the stub remains, is located on Cross Hill at the junction of Buttercross and Skellow Road, a mere 2.5 km due east of the site of Hampole Priory. As its name implies it then stood at a market place and so would have been somewhat prominent. However, unless the name 'Robin Hood's Cross' can be found used with unequivocal reference to the Market Cross, this identification must remain an interesting hypothesis. The site of the cross is indicated on the interactive Map by the rightmost of the two markers. This place-name does not seem to have bee noted in previous works on the Robin Hood tradition.


1537 - Prise, John - Examination of Thomas Percy

[...] they concluded to send this examinate [Sir Thomas Percy (c. 1504-37, second son of Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland)] and his company, Sir Ralph Ellerker, Sir William Constable [...] with their companies, being in the whole about the number of four thousand men, to Fery bridge aforesaid. And there they kept watch for that night. And on the morrow came all the rest of the host to them save only my Lord Darcy and my Lord Archbishop of York, with their own retinue which were left in Pomfret Castle. And the same day they went from Fery bridge to a little nunnery beyond Doncaster, besides Robin Hood's Cross, and there kept the field all that night.[7]




Hampole Priory

Skellow Cross


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