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1822 - Rhodes, Ebenezer - Peak Scenery (1)

Allusion
Date 1822
Author Rhodes, Ebenezer
Title Peak Scenery, or Excursions in Derbyshire: Made chiefly for the Purpose of Picturesque Observation
Mentions Little John; Little John's Grave; Robin Hood
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Hathersage Church with Little John's Grave

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-01-01. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-06-10.

Allusion

In the vicinity of Hathersage there are some excellent subjects for the pencil, and while my companion was sketching in the valley be- [p. 8:] low the village, I visited the Churchyard on the hill above, where as tradition informs us lie the bones of Little John, the favourite companion of the celebrated forest marauder, Robin Hood. His burial place is distinguished by stones placed at the head and foot of his grave; they are nearly four yards apart, and they are said to designate the stature of this gigantic man. However fabulous this account may be, the body here interred appears to have been of more than ordinary size. In October, 1784, this reputed grave of Little John was opened, when a thigh bone measuring two feet five inches was found within it. A tall man from Offerton, who on account of his stature had probably obtained the name of Robin Hood's faithful follower, was interred in this place; hence originated this village tradition; and that it might be rendered still more marvellous, when the bones were re-committed to the grave the stones that originally marked the, [sic] stature of the tall man of Offerton were removed farther apart.[1]

Source notes

IRHB's brackets. Peak Scenery was first published 1818 to 1823, in four parts. Part III, which includes the above passage, was published in 1822. The passage recurs unchanged in the 1824 edition, where this footnote is appended:[2]

Hathersage is somewhat tenacious with respect to this circumstance in its local history, and insists upon the validity of its claim to the burial place of Little John. The traditional authority on which this claim rests is more than doubtful. Mr. J. A. Walker, in is ingenious “Memoir on the Armour and Weapons of the Irish,” annexed to his “Historical Essay on the Dress of the Ancient and Modern Irish,” has given some curious particulars relative to the skill of Little John in archery, and he informs us that he terminated his life on the gallows, and that he was “executed for a robbery on Arbor Hill, Dublin.” If this author be correct, it is not likely that Little John was_buried at Hathersage.

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