Little John, the ironically named and trusted lieutenant to legendary rebel Robin Hood, is reportedly buried in the churchyard of Saint Michael’s in Hathersage, Derbyshire.
Robin Hood first made his appearance in 14th-century ballads, and John too features in some of these. Some later accounts depict the famous quarterstaff fight between Robin and John, after which they became friends.
The most well-known of the Merry Men, John’s formal name was thought to be John Little. He was reputedly a giant of a man, a fact which caused Robin jokingly to reverse his name. The layout of the grave in Hathersage certainly indicates that a tall man is buried there and the headstone is marked with Little John’s name. At one time, Little John’s longbow and cap supposedly hung in the church.
Despite Hollywood’s fixation on the area around Nottingham for the story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, this part of Derbyshire features heavily in the traditional tales of Robin, the outlaw from Loxley. Loxley is only a few miles from Hathersage and Sherwood Forest, which is now confined to a small area around Edwinstowe, but once spanned the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
While the folklore surrounding Robin Hood may simply be fiction, this grave adds credence to the tale and the village of Hathersage makes the most of it. The village is also the first large settlement one passes through when entering the Peak District National Park from Sheffield.