Almost eight centuries after Robin Hood fired the arrow that flew to his final resting place his Merrie Men (and women) are marshalling their forces once more.
The site of what many believe to be the outlaw’s grave near Cooper Bridge is under threat from a massive proposed development that could see the land swallowed up by industrial units and the grave destroyed.
Now a petition has been set up on Change.org urging planners to scrap their proposals for the parcel of land bordering Wakefield Road as it links Kirklees with Calderdale.
The petition, which has already attracted more than 1,000 signatures, is underscored by Robin Hood’s reputation as “an internationally renowned folk hero loved the world over by movie and television fans, and academics.”
It exhorts the council to consider improving access to the area to encourage international tourism, claiming that to bulldoze the grave site would be to destroy one of the few tangible relics of Robin Hood that still exist.
The petition, which has been signed by people from across the UK, could mean the grave site becomes the focus of what could be a titanic scrap over past versus present.
Folklore says that a sick Robin lay in the gatehouse of Kirklees Priory, on land between Mirfield and Brighouse, where he was tended by his aunt, the prioress.
As his strength faded, Robin fired an arrow from his deathbed and ordered faithful friend and companion Little John to bury him where it fell. The grave site has been associated with Robin Hood since the 16th century.
Mirfield town councillor Steve Benson, who has walked, mapped and filmed the area around the grave, said the site was of enormous historical significance.
“It’s a valuable historical asset to the area,” he said. “It has enriched a lot of imaginations, including mine.
“The gravestone and the footstone have been there for many years. This is all pre-Victorian. The grave existed for many years before someone came along to protect it.
“There are very old yew trees planted around the grave. Longbows were made of yew. It’s a powerful connection.
“All that area is designated for industrial units in the Kirklees Local Plan, which runs until 2031.
“I have signed the petition because I believe it should be protected from development.”
The inscription on the side of the grave reads as follows:
Hear Underneath dis laitl Stean
Laz robert earl of Huntingtun
Ne’er arcir veraz hie sa geud
An pipl kauld im robin heud
Sick utlawz az hi an iz men
Vil england nivr si agen
Obiit 24 kal: Dekembris 1247
It roughly translates as:
“Here underneath this little stone
Lays Robert Earl of Huntington.
Never archer were as he so good
And people called him Robin Hood.
Such outlaws as he and his men
Will England never see again.”
Died 24th day of December 1247
To sign the petition, visit https:// www.change.org/p/save-robin-hood-s-grave-from-destruction