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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Robin Hood's grave 'dug up'

By Brady Haran
BBC News Online, East Midlands

Richard Rutherford-Moore
Richard Rutherford-Moore conducted archery experiments
The bones of legendary outlaw Robin Hood may have been dug up in the mid-18th Century, according to a history buff.

Author Richard Rutherford-Moore, who has published two books about Robin Hood, bases the claim on research and a series of experiments with a bow and arrow.

According to most Robin Hood legends, the ailing outlaw determined his own burial site by shooting an arrow from his death bed.

He is said to have died in the gatehouse of Kirklees Priory, in West Yorkshire.

A monument in the privately owned grounds claims to mark Robin Hood's grave, but Mr Rutherford-Moore says it is impossible the outlaw's final arrow could have travelled the full 650 metres from the gatehouse.

Using measurements of the old priory building and his knowledge of archery in the 13th Century, Mr Rutherford-Moore fired 20 "test arrows" to re-enact the event.

He performed the experiment near his home in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, because it was unsafe to do so at Kirklees.

The tests were based on research and a number of "educated assumptions", such as the position of the former priory building relative to the bed, the type of bow being used and Robin Hood's health at the time.

Artist's impression of Robin Hood's final shot
- Robin Hood was said to be "murdered" by the prioress
- Little John was at this side when he fired the final arrow
- His dying wish was "bury me where my arrow falls"

Based on his shots, Mr Rutherford-Moore believes he determined the probable arrow landing site to within a five-metre radius.

Subsequent research has shown bones were removed from an unmarked grave at that spot during estate improvement work in the mid-18th Century, he says.

The whereabouts of those bones is unknown.

So if these bones were uncovered, were they the remains of history's most famous outlaw?

Earlier this year, a Cardiff-based academic announced that Robin Hood never existed, basing his conclusion on 20 years of study.

The idea of finding Robin Hood's bones sounds fanciful and, by Mr Rutherford-Moore's own admission, some of his research is based on legends dating back hundreds of years.

'Big coincidence'

But it is also founded on legitimate research and the bones found at Kirklees 250 years ago may have been significant, he says.

Mr Rutherford-Moore says: "Bones were found when they were laying a lead pipe... and they are at the exact spot where I calculated an arrow would have landed.

"That is a pretty big coincidence."

However, like any tale about Robin Hood, the truth will never be known for sure.

"You can never totally prove it, but people can make their own conclusions."

Robin Hood 'did not exist'
19 Jun 03  |  Wales
Sheriff dismisses 'villain' tag
18 Mar 03  |  England
Robin Hood misses top spot
27 Nov 02  |  England
Discovery backs 'real' Robin Hood
16 Aug 02  |  England


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