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Robin Hood's Butt (Askerton)

Coordinates 55.0388, -2.6594
Adm. div. Cumberland
Vicinity c. 3.9 km NE of Askerton and c. 1.4 km NNW of Spadeadam
Type Prehistoric site
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Extant
First Record 1830
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Robin Hood's Butt.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-08-26. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-16.

Robin Hood's Butt in Askerton parish, Cumberland, is a turf-covered mound, c. 13 m in diameter and up to 1.9 m in height. The mound, with some stone debris, is what remains of a Roman signal station which stood on the west side of the Maiden Way, a Roman Road from Birdoswald (by Hadrian's Wall) to Bewcastle. The foundations of a nearly square tower can be seen on the top. Based on the amount of debris it has been suggested that it was about 6 m high. Its walls of regularly coursed c. 85 cm thick stones were 3.5 to 6 m. wide externally. When the station was active, there was a ditch or drainage channel round the building, with a little causeway over or through it on the east side. The stone for the tower was supplied by two small quarries only 50 m to the west.[1]

Robin Hood's Well is indicated as 'The Butt' tout court on a 6" O.S. map published in 1868 (based on surveying done in 1863) and on subsequent revisions at least until 1952 (see Maps section below). However, F. Haverfield, who excavated the site in 1900, noted in a report printed the subsequent year that "an estate map of 1830, belonging to Lord Carlisle [i.e. George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle (1843-1911)[2]], calls it Robin Hood's Butt, and the appellation seems to be still known in the neighbourhood".[3] I.A. Richmond in his 1933 paper on the site also knew it by that name. Recently, Andrew Curtis, who took one of the photos shown below, noted that the Butt is "[a]lso known as 'Robin Hood's Butt' (a possible reference to Robin Hood's Well nearby)"[4] He refers to the official archaeological website Pastscape – the source of the archaeological detail given above – which also uses the name 'Robin Hood's Well'. The latter is clearly the preferred name among archaeologists. I do not know whether it is also still in use locally.





  • According to I.A. Richmond, "Bruce[, John Collingwood], The Roman Wall, 3, pp. 264-5" is a lithograph of the tower at Robin Hood's Butt. He finds the lithograph "dramatized" the monument. I have not been able to locate the illustration in any of the editions of the book that are available for download.[5] Two other of Richmond's source references are incorrect. This one is at least imprecise.


Brief mention

Also see


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