The Robin Hood Stone is a huge prehistoric standing stone. At over two metres high and almost a metre wide and half a metre thick, it is still an imposing figure in the landscape. Unlike most such monuments in the country that are located on remote moorlands, this is to be found at the edge of a Liverpool housing estate. It is contemporary with the Calderstones monument which was constructed in the Neolithic (or New Stone Age), located just over a mile away. It is probably a sacred route marker that prehistoric people would have passed by on their way to the burial mound of Calderstones.
There is some disagreement as to whether it is close to its original position, or if it has been moved from the actual monument of Calderstones. It is known that in the 1560s, and again in the 1760s, a stones were removed from the monument. This may well have been done by local farmers, setting the stones up for their cattle to rub themselves against. However, the fact that the Robin Hood Stone stood in a field that has long been recorded as ‘Stone Hey’, means that it is more likely to be close to its original position.
Explanations have been put forward for the deep grooves that run down the stone. They are most probably the effect of exposure to thousands of years of rain. However, some sources claim that they could be the result of sharpening of stone axe axes. It would seem unlikely that a sacred stone would be used for such a purpose. A more fanciful explanation is that the grooves originate from the sharpening of Medieval arrows.
The idea of a Medieval connection perhaps arose from the name ‘Robin Hood Stone’. This is probably a relatively recent coinage that was given to the stone as tales of Robin Hood grew in popularity. Isolated stones and ancient wells are often associated with fairies, and the name Robin Goodfellow is a popular fairy name. In Lancashire, we are far from the haunts of the legendary Robin Hood, but there are plenty of sites with the name Robin Hood appended, a remnant of the once popular folk belief in fairies and ‘Robin Goodfellow’. (See Robin Hood’s Well at Helmshore).
In 1910, the stone was excavated. Around the lower portion were discovered a number of Bronze Age cup marks. This enigmatic stone motif is commonly found on prehistoric sites, often added to monuments that have been in use from the earlier Neolithic. One can clearly be seen just above the plaque in the top photograph. Some of the Calderstones also feature cup marks from the Bronze Age era.
The stone was given protection as a scheduled ancient monument in 1924. This was good timing, as just four years later a housing estate was built on the field where it stood. The stone was moved and re-erected by Liverpool Corporation and Merseyside Building Company in its present position.
Today, it stands at the corner of Booker Avenue and Archerfield Road, protected by tall metal railings. A plaque inscription gives the following details: “This Monolith known as Robin Hood’s Stone, stood in a field known as Stone hey at a spot 280 feet bearing North from its present position, to which it was moved in August 1928. The arrow below indicates the direction of the original site. This side of the stone formerly faced South’.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2021
On street parking on Booker Avenue or the surrounding roads.
Both the books below (which confusingly have the same title) are worth buying. The 2021 book is the most comprehensive, but both are excellent. They are available from The Reader shop in Calderstones Park.
The Calderstones: A Prehistoric Tomb in Liverpool, Liz Stewart. George Nash and Ron Cowell (2021) National Museums Liverpool
The Calderstones: A Prehistoric Tomb in Liverpool, Ron Cowell (2008) Merseyside Archaeological Society