British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain
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Robin Hood's Butts

Robin Hood's Butts

On the Blackdown Hills near Otterford are three bronze age round barrows and tales have swirled around them for centuries.  There were originally five barrows, but only three now remain.  The oldest story is that they were used by Robin Hood to support the targets for his archery practice.  That tale may well stretch back into the 17th or even 16th century. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1818 reported that the belief at the time was that Robin and LIttle John used to toss quoits from one barrow to the other - the hollows left by previous treasure seekers digging into the barrows are the marks of where these small boulders landed. In the middle of the 20th century the archaeologist Leslie Grinsell discovered other stories; the barrows were lumps of earth thrown by giants, and other informants claimed that they were tombs of ancient warriors.

In the 1970s the Folklorist Kingsley Palmer was told that the largest barrow held buried gold, but that there was no hope of digging it out; men who tried found that they harder they worked the less progress they made, for their trenches refilled the,selves overnight and their markers were buried, so in the end they gave up in despair.