We adore wandering through Robin Hood’s Bay and imagining the stories that were told there. It’s just bursting with curiosity, superstition and spooky tales. Here are 4 myths, legends and ghost stories about Robin Hood’s Bay.
The life of a fisherman was very risky therefore many local superstitions were followed around the sea. For example, a boat would not be launched if the fishermen met a woman or a pig on the slipway as this was considered very unlucky. Seagulls were said to be the souls of drowned sailors. If one flew into the window of a house, it was bad for the family inside as it was considered a symbol of death.
1. Why the name Robin Hood’s Bay?
There is no evidence to suggest that Robin Hood has anything to do with the name of the town or that he is even a real person. However, there is a legend some people believe that Robin Hood had a run in French pirates who came to pillage the fisherman’s boats and the northeast coast. The pirates surrendered to Robin Hood and he returned the loot to the poor people in the village.
There are so many legends about the name Robin Hood’s Bay, one suggests the name comes from the term for an ancient forest spirit whereas another believes Robin Hood kept boats by the harbour in Robin Hood’s bay in case he needed to make a quick escape. There is also a story that suggests that the Abbot of Whitby asked Robin Hood to repel an attack by Danish raiders.
Where not sure which to believe either, but we do love the name.
2. Headless Bert Haunts Robin Hood’s Bay
Yorkshire farmers are often frugal and no farmer was quite as precious with the pennies as Bert Marshall. He even went as far as to steal a set of dentures from a corpse to replace his old teeth. (Gross right?)
The only thing Bert cared to spend money on was alcohol and he would often walk along the route of the Whitby/Scarborough railway line, and to the pub. Bert walked to the Windmill Inn 5 miles away every Friday night.
Drunk one evening Bert began his regular walk along the railway line. It is said that something knocked Bert over and knocked out his dentures, he toppled over whilst bending to pick them up and landed on the railway line. As he lay there unconscious Bert was decapitated by an oncoming train.
At that time many people believed it was important to be buried as a whole body or the spirit could not rest. His headless ghost is said to still be seen on moonless nights along the train tracks. Some have said that Bert still carries his false teeth with him and searches for his head. Will you hear the clanking of his false teeth?
3. Robin Hood’s Bay Smuggling Legend
Robin Hoods Bay is just perfect for smuggling, it is very isolated and has a protected harbour that is surrounded on three sides by a marshland. It gained its reputation as a smuggler’s haunt by the 18th century. At this time most of its population was involved in smuggling in some way. Every house had its own secret hiding place and tunnels linking to them.
Legends say that a bale of silk could be easily transferred from the harbour at Robin Hood’s Bay to the clifftops without even leaving the houses! and that smugglers often engaged in regular battles with excise men. Smugglers’ wives were just as involved and were known to pour boiling water from high up windows onto the heads of excise men below in the narrow lanes.
It is said that those taking part in such criminal activities were classed as outlaws, in reality, smugglers were often looked upon by locals and their communities very favourably. They were, after all, providing cheaper luxurious goods such as silk, spirits, tobacco and tea.
4. Visit the Boggle at Boggle Hole
Just slightly south of Robin Hood’s Bay is Boggle Hole. It’s a little North Yorkshire hidden gem and is fun to visit for a family day out. Surrounding it there are lots of things to do such as rock pooling, fossil hunting and treasure trails.
The small cove or cave is named Boggle Hole as it was believed it was the home to a mischievous little Boggle/Hobgoblin. Boggles were believed to live inside caves all over the North Yorkshire Coastline and in remote corners of the moors. It was thought that if you took a sick child to Boggle Hole that the Boggle would cure the child completely…it is said that mothers would often be seen carrying down their children to the cave.
Have you ever visited Robin Hood’s Bay and seen anything Ghostly for yourself, or maybe you’ve heard other myths and legends. Let us know in the comments.