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Robin Hood's Picking Rods (Chisworth)

Coordinates 53.4152, -1.9923
Adm. div. Derbyshire
Vicinity 1.5 km SE of Chisworth; 3.5 km WSW of Charlesworth
Type Monument
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Extant
First Record 1842
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Robin Hood's Picking Rods.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-06-26. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-10-26.

'Robin Hood's Picking Rods' is the popular name of two stone columns standing side by side in a stone socket, the tallest column being about 2 metres high. They are located on the outskirts of Ludworth Moor c. 3.5 km WSW of Charlesworth. Archaeologists believe the two pillars were originally "almost certainly the lower parts of two Saxon crosses" dating from the 10th century or earlier. They probably marked the boundary between ecclesiastical divisions or Danish and English Districts. However, it has also been argued that they were erected in the Norman period.[1] Various other suggestions have been made as to their origin. Carl Rogerson discusses several such hypotheses, some less likely than others, including a myth of origin intended to explain the name 'Robin Hood's Picking Rods': the columns were used when bending and stringing bows, i.e. they were essentially a tool for making longbows.[2] This would seem to be a rationalization of the "Legend" that "Robin Hood used the column or columns 'to bend his bow on'".[3] In the absence of any convincing evidence to the contrary, let us stick with the archaeologists and Anglo-Saxon crosses. As Carlson notes, the stones stood at the Derbyshire–Cheshire border (they are now at the Derbyshire–Greater Manchester border). Whatever the signifance and function of the original stone crosses, Robin Hood's Picking Rods thus served to mark the county boundary during the medieval to modern period.

While the stones themselves thus probably date from the early middle ages, the name 'Robin Hood's Picking Rods' is first recorded at a relatively late date, for it is first found on an 1842 O.S. map of the area.[4] In the 17th century, Robin Hood's Picking Rods were known as the Maiden Stones.[5] Apparently this monument is also known as 'Robin Hood's Stumps' and the 'Druid Stones'.[6] Kenneth Cameron notes in one of the English Place-Name Society volumes on Derbyshire that all Robin Hood-related place-names in Derbyshire are first recorded at a late date.[7]







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