WENTBRIDGE is a small village in the
City of Wakefield
City of Wakefield district of
West Yorkshire , England. It lies around 3 miles (5 km) southeast of
its nearest town of size,
Pontefract , close to the A1 road .
The village contains one of the largest viaducts in Europe, its
significance sanctioned by the
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art .
one of a number of locations that have connections to the legend of
Robin Hood .
* 1 Geography and topography
* 2 Governance
* 3 Amenities
* 5 History
* 5.1 Anglo-Saxon history
* 5.3 The Saylis
* 5.4 Swein-son-of-Siccga, \'The Prince of Thieves\'
* 6 References
* 7 External links
GEOGRAPHY AND TOPOGRAPHY
Wentbridge sits in the heart of the Went Valley, on the northernmost
edge of the medieval vale of
Barnsdale , seen by many medievalists as
the official home of Robin Hood. During the Middle Ages the village
Wentbridge was itself sometimes referred to by the name of
Barnsdale because it was the main settlement in the Forest of
Barnsdale, and it was possible to look down upon the village from the
Saylis. The county boundary follows the A1 from the
River Went to
Barnsdale Bar, which is the southernmost point of North Yorkshire.
Close by to the southwest is the Roman Ridge, a Roman road which
closely follows the course of the modern-day A639. To the north is
Darrington. Earlier historians have usually assumed that this district
was heavily wooded. However, aerial photography and excavation have
shown that the region has always been a largely pastoral landscape
dotted with occasional settlements.
The village of
Wentbridge straddles the
River Went , from which it
takes its name, along a north-south axis and sits less than a mile
from the county boundary with North Yorkshire to the east. The village
is so named because it used to be the site of the Great North Road\'s
bridge over the River Went. Entrance to the village was down a steep
valley which would have been a problem before motorised transport and
eventually became a bottleneck.
Wentbridge House was one of the
properties near the river and on the Great North Road. It still exists
today and is called
Wentbridge House Hotel . Robin Hood's Well is
on the east of the southbound carriageway of the A1, just south of
Within close proximity to the village of
Wentbridge there are, or
were, some notable landmarks which relate to Robin Hood. The
Robin Hood place-name reference - in Yorkshire or
anywhere else - occurs in a deed of 1322 from the two cartularies of
Monk Bretton Priory, near the town of Barnsley. The cartulary deed
refers in Latin to a landmark named 'the Stone of Robert Hode' (Robin
Hood’s Stone), which was located in the
Barnsdale area. According to
J. W. Walker this was on the eastern side of the Great North Road, a
mile south of
Barnsdale Bar. On the opposite side of the road once
stood Robin Hood's Well, which has since been relocated six miles
north-west of Doncaster, on the south-bound side of the Great North
Wentbridge is unusual in that it has parts in three different civil
parishes: the entire portion of the village to the north of the river,
including the village church, is within the parish of Darrington ,
whilst south of the river, that part of the village on the west side
of the B6474 road falls within
Thorpe Audlin parish, with buildings on
the road's eastern side falling within
North Elmsall parish.
The village is also divided between two council wards, and as such
two parliamentary constituencies : north of the river the village
comes under the
Pontefract South ward within the Normanton, Pontefract
and Castleford parliamentary constituency; south of the river, the
North Elmsall and Upton ward within the Hemsworth
constituency. Accordingly, the village's two Members of Parliament are
Yvette Cooper and
Jon Trickett .
On the Great North Road in the village are a four-star hotel and the
Blue Bell Inn public house . The village church is dedicated to St
John the Evangelist . It is within the Went Valley group of parishes
in the Diocese of Leeds .
To avoid the incline on the valley, when the village was bypassed at
a cost of £800,000 in 1961, one of the then-largest viaducts in
Europe was built to cross the Went valley at a height of 98 feet (30
m) using prestressed concrete . It is 308 feet (94 m) long and was
designed by F. A. (Joe) Sims, and became a Grade II listed building on
29 May 1998. In 1964 the engineering significance of the bridge was
recognised by New York's
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art . Thirty years after
its construction it received an award from the
Concrete Society .
A blue plaque commemorating Wentbridge's
Robin Hood connections
Battle of Winwaed
Battle of Winwaed is believed to have taken place
Wentbridge and Ackworth where what is now the A639 (a main
Roman road) crosses the River Went. The battle was a pivotal event
that decided the religious destiny of the English. The most powerful
pagan king in seventh-century England,
Penda , was defeated by the
Christian Oswiu in 655, effectively ending Anglo-Saxon paganism.
Archaeologists believe that a mound in
Wentbridge was the location of
an Anglo-Saxon fortification.
English Heritage has placed a blue plaque on the bridge that crosses
the River Went, recognising Wentbridge's (and Barnsdale's) strong
claim to be the original home of Robin Hood.
Wentbridge is mentioned
in what may be the earliest surviving manuscript of a Robin Hood
Robin Hood and the Potter ": "'Y mete hem bot at Went breg,'
s(e)yde Lytyll John" ('I met him but at Wentbridge', said Little
Wentbridge is not specifically named in the medieval
ballad entitled "
A Gest of Robyn Hode ", the ballad does appear to
make a cryptic reference to the locality by depicting a friendly
knight explaining to Robin that he ‘went at a brydge’ where there
was 'a wraste-lyng' (wrestling).
Site of the Saylis
The Gest of Robyn Hode makes specific references to 'the Saylis' and
'the Sayles', and a landmark by that name was certainly located near
Wentbridge. The outlaw himself mentions the site in the First Fytte of
The 19th-century antiquary Joseph Hunter (a Yorkshireman by birth)
identified its likely site: a small tenancy, of one-tenth of a
knight’s fee (i.e. a knight's annual income), located on high ground
500 yards (457.2 metres) to the east of the village of
the manor of Pontefract. The high ground which overlooks the area -
120 feet (36.576 metres) above the flat terrain - was then known as
Sayles Plantation. From this location it was possible to see across
the whole of the Went Valley and observe the traffic that passed along
the Great North Road, thus demonstrating its significance as a
lookout-point in the Gest. The Saylis is recorded as having
contributed towards the aid that was granted to King Edward III in
1346-47 for the knighting of his son, the Black Prince. Such evidence
of continuity makes it virtually certain that the Saylis or Sayles
which was so well-known to the
Robin Hood of the "Gest" survived into
modern times as the 'Sayles Plantation' near Wentbridge. The
historians Richard Barrie Dobson and John Taylor indicate that this
location provides a specific clue to Robin Hood’s Wentbridge
SWEIN-SON-OF-SICCGA, \'THE PRINCE OF THIEVES\'
An infamous outlaw known as 'The Prince of Thieves" once inhabited
Wentbridge. A medieval chronicler speaks of an outlaw named
Swein-son-of-Sicga who robbed Abbot Benedict of Selby and "constantly
prowled around Yorkshire's woods with his band on perpetual raids".
J. Green indicates that Hugh fitz Baldric, the late-eleventh-century
Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire , held responsibility for
bringing Swein-son-of-Sicga to justice. Historians indicate that the
deeds of Yorkshire's outlaws, men such as Swein-son-of-Siccga, and
their battles against the Sheriff of Nottingham, gave birth to the
legend of Robin Hood.
* ^ Hunter, Joseph, "Robin Hood", in Robin Hood: An Anthology of
Scholarship and Criticism, ed. by Stephen Knight (Cambridge: D.S.
Brewer, 1999) pp.187-196. Holt, J.C., Robin Hood, 2nd edition (London:
Thames and Hudson, 2011). Holt, J.C. , "Robin Hood" in Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2004-13). Holt, J.C. "The Origins and Audience of the Ballads of Robin
Hood" in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism, ed. by
Stephen Knight (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1999). Bellamy, John, Robin
Hood: An Historical Enquiry (London: Croom Helm, 1985). Keen, Maurice,
The Outlaws of Medieval Legend, 2nd edition (
London and Henley:
Routledge and Kegan Paul; Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto
Press, 1977) ISBN 0-7102-1203-8 .. Maddicott, J.R., "The Birth and
Setting of the Ballads of Robin Hood" in Robin Hood: An Anthology of
Scholarship and Criticism, ed. by Stephen Knight (Woodbridge: D.S.
Brewer, 1999) pp.233-256. Dobson, R. B. and John Taylor, Rymes of
Robyn Hode: An Introduction to the English Outlaw, 3rd edition
(Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1997). Crook, David, "Some Further
Evidence Concerning the Dating of the Origins of the Legend of Robin
Hood", in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism, ed.
by Stephen Knight (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1999) pp.257-262. Matheson,
Lister, "The Dialects and Language of Selected
Robin Hood Poems", in
Robin Hood: The Early Poems, 1465-1560: Texts, Contexts and Ideology
ed. Thomas Ohlgren (Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press,
* ^ Eric Houlder, Ancient Roots North: When
Pontefract Stood on the
Great North Road, (Pontefract:
Pontefract Groups Together, 2012) p.7.
* ^ In 1924 the antiquary J. W. Walker redated the deed to 1422
(with apparently excellent justification), claiming an alleged scribal
error, and this redating has been widely accepted ever since. ( See
ref 4 below.) In both cartularies the actual year written on the
'Robin Hood's Stone' deed is 1322. The older of the two surviving Monk
Bretton cartularies is in the British Library. In this the full date
of the deed is given, in Latin words and numerals. These translate
directly as 'the Sixth of June, the Lord's Day, in the Feast of the
Holy Trinity, One-Thousand 300 Twenty-Two' (ie Trinity Sunday, 6 June
1322). This is a perfectly correct date, both in the Church Calendar
and in the civil Julian Calendar, which was used in the British Isles
until the middle of the 18th century. In 1322 the Sixth of June fell
on a Sunday, and Sunday the Sixth of June was Trinity Sunday. In 1422
the Sixth of June fell on a Saturday, and Trinity Sunday was the
Seventh of June. (Calendar years are not repeated at 100-year
intervals in either the Julian or Gregorian calendars.) In the date
itself there is no evidence of scribal error. See
C. R. Cheney and
Michael Jones: A Handbook of Dates for students of British history
(London: Royal Historical Society 1945/new edition: Cambridge
University Press 2000, reprinted 2004) pp196-199. See also Jim Lees:
"The Quest for Robin Hood" (Nottingham: Temple Nostalgia Press 1987)
* ^ "Abstracts of the Chartularies of the Priory of Monkbretton",
Record Series Vol. LXVI, edited by J. W. Walker (Leeds: The Yorkshire
Archaeological Society, 1924) pp105-106.
* ^ Dobson and Taylor, p. 22
* ^ Biff Vernon, "A1-The Great North Road: Wentbridge",
Freeserve.co.uk, retrieved 21 December 2015.
Viaduct and By-pass, Region: North East: A1
Improvement schemes. Redhouse to Wentbridge, The Motorway Archive,
CIHT, archived 19 March 2012.
* ^ Historic
England . "
Viaduct Carrying Bypass over
Valley of River Went, Kirk Smeaton (Grade II) (1323681)". National
Heritage List for
England . Retrieved 26 June 2014.
* ^ Higham N. J. 1993, Northumbria
* ^ Breeze, A. C. "The Battle of the Uined and the River Went,
Yorkshire", Northern History, XLI.2, September 2004
* ^ Houlder, p. 7
* ^ The Gest of Robyn Hode, Stanza 135 p. 88
* ^ The "Gest", Stanza 18, repeated with slight variations at
Stanza 209, pp. 80, 94.
* ^ Joseph Hunter, "The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of
England", Critical and Historical Tracts 4 (1852 pp. 15-16).
* ^ Hunter, pp. 15-16).
* ^ Dobson and Taylor, p. 22; Holt, p. 85.
* ^ Dobson and Taylor p. 22
* ^ Historia Selebiensis Monasterii, ed. by Janet Burton and Lynda
Lockyer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2013) Chapter 17 p. 45.
* ^ Green, Judith A., English Sheriffs to 1154, Public Records
Handbook No. 24 (London: HMSO, 1990), pp.67