Robin Hood's Well (Catterlen)
|Vicinity||In Catterlen Wood|
|Interest||Robin Hood name|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-11. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-05.
According to Jeremiah Sullivan (see 1857 Allusion below), a spring in a wood near Catterlen was known as Robin Hood's Well. I have assumed he meant Catterlen Wood, which is adjacent to the village. The coordinates cited in the infobox and indicated on the Google map are those of the wood. I have not been able to locate the well.
In the south of Ireland, and other places, when a murder has been committed, every person who passes the spot is under an obligation to leave a stone, and the custom being continued for an indefinite time, a considerable heap is generally raised. It once happened that a man of brutal disposition, resident in a town, wantonly slew a number of persons who passed his house singing and shouting for their amusement. The blow, which was probably not intended to kill, proved fatal; the murderer escaped the punishment of the law, but for many weeks was obliged to keep a labourer in regular, occasional employment, to remove cairns from before his door. Some provinces of Spain have a similar custom, but to take the words of the writer, the stone is there thrown on the grave. On the borders of Gallicia, says an English traveller, are found heaps of stones. Every Gallician who goes out of the province to seek work, either going or returning, throws a stone on the heap.
We thus come to a curious nutting custom of Westmorland, connected with no less personages than Robin Hood and Little John. In the neighbourhood of Orton are two heaps of stones, under which it is believed the outlaw of Sherwood Forest and his lieutenant, are buried. It was once customary for every person who went a nutting in the wood, at the south end of which these heaps are situated, to throw a stone on Robin's grave, repeating the following rhyme:
Whoever was the original of this famous outlaw, and whether he was properly Robin of the Wood, or Robin with the Hood, his name is now connected with mounds and stones innumerable in various parts of England. Lancashire has made him a giant, and [p. 131:] given him Blackstone Edge for a bed. Barrows in many places are called Robin Hood's butts. He has become a favourite ballad hero, and has been worked up with the celebration of the May festival; in Westmorland, as we see, he is the patron of nutters. And, in short, too much popularity has converted him, according to the view of critical investigators, into a myth. Near the village of Catterlen, in a retired part of the wood, is a spring called Robin Hood's well, but how it acquired the name is not now known.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, here lie thy bones,
Load me with nuts as I load thee with stones.
- Not included in Dobson, R. B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), pp. 293-311.
- Sullivan, J. Cumberland & Westmorland, Ancient & Modern: The People, Dialect, Superstitions and Customs (London; Kendal, 1857), p. 131.
- 6" O.S. map Cumberland XLIX (1867; surveyed 1860)
- 6" O.S. map Cumberland XLIX.SE (1900; rev. 1898)
- 6" O.S. map Cumberland XLIX.SE (1900; rev. 1898) (georeferenced)
- 6" O.S. map Cumberland XLIX (1923; surveyed 1926).