It is strange that there should be so little information as to the associations of Robin Hood with this fishing-village. The stories of his shooting an arrow to determine where he should make his headquarters sound improbable, although his keeping one or two small ships in the bay ready for making his escape if suddenly attacked seems a rational precaution, and if only there were a little more evidence outside the local traditions to go upon, it would be pleasant to let the imagination play upon the wild life led by the outlawed Earl of Huntingdon in this then inaccessible coast region.
The railway southwards takes a curve inland, and, after winding in and out to make the best of the contour of the hills, the train finally steams very heavily and slowly into Ravenscar Station, right over the Peak and 630 feet above the sea. On the way you get glimpses of the moors inland, and grand views over the curving bay. There is a station named Fyling Hall, after Sir Hugh Cholmley’s old house, halfway to Ravenscar. It was about the year 1625 that Sir Hugh to a great extent rebuilt Fyling Hall, which is still standing; but he came in with his family before the plaster on the walls was thoroughly dry, and the household seems to have suffered in health on this account. Shortly afterwards Sir Hugh lost his eldest son Richard, who was only five years old, and this great trouble decided him to move to Whitby; for in 1629 he sold Fyling Hall to Sir John Hotham, and took up his residence in the Abbey House at Whitby.
Raven Hall, the large house conspicuously perched on the heights above the Peak, is now converted into an hotel. There is a wonderful view from the castellated terraces, which in the distance suggest the remains of some ruined fortress. At the present time there is nothing to be seen older than the house whose foundations were dug in 1774. While the building operations were in progress, however, a Roman stone, now in Whitby Museum, was unearthed. The inscription has been translated: ’Justinian, governor of the province, and Vindician, general of the forces of Upper Britain, for the second time, with the younger provincial soldiers built this fort, the manager of public works giving his assistance.’ There is therefore ample evidence for believing that this commanding height was used by the Romans as a military post, although subsequently there were no further attempts to fortify the place, Scarborough, so much more easily defensible, being chosen instead. A rather pathetic attempt to foster the establishment of a watering-place has, however, been lately put on foot, but beyond some elaborately prepared roads and two or three isolated blocks of houses, there is fortunately little response to this artificial cultivation of a summer resort on the bare hill-top.