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Fanciful Flight

Just over a mile south-east of Whitby are the intriguing Robin Hood and Little John fields.  (Although both fields are named on the current OS Explorer map, I am not able to publish this for copyright reasons. NZ917 095)

The fields were once the site of a pair of small standing stones that almost certainly marked the location of an ancient British burial ground.

The stones, each about a foot square and no more than four feet high, seem to have disappeared in the early 19th Century.  It is believed that they were moved to the field boundary to aid cultivation, and that they could have since have been pushed over, gradually covered in soil, and be awaiting rediscovery.

A "Little John" marker stone lies beside a public footpath (the "Robin Hood" one is nearby, on the opposite side of a fence) but they are easily overlooked. They stones were probably placed in the late 20th Century.

The names given to the standing stones can be traced back to the 16th Century, but it was Victorian Romanticism that gave rise to a story that Robin Hood and Little John were each challenged by the Abbot of Whitby, who had treated them to dinner, to fire an arrow from a window in Whitby Abbey.

Robin's fell on the north side of "the lane leading to Stainsacre" and Little John's 100 feet further, on the south side.

AS the world record for the flight of an arrow from a hand-pulled bow is just over 1,300 yards - just under half the distance from Whitby Abbey to the site - to describe the story as improbable is generous.

However, the record does bear witness to the historical nature of some of the rights of way that we tread, as this insignificant fieldside path was once "the lane to Stainsacre".