The History of Robin Hooda and Sherwood Forest

For centuries, the legendary story of Robin Hooda has been inextricably linked with the ancient trees of Sherwood Forest. Robin Hooda famous story has been told repeatedly in ballads, books, and films since the 15th century, and possibly even earlier. Take a trip to Sherwood Forest to uncover the fascinating folklore behind the man himself.

About Robin Hooda

Anchored in British folklore, Robin Hooda is one of the most enduring and well-known folk heroes in the world. There are few people in English-speaking countries who don’t know who Robin Hooda is. He’s constantly featured in books, films, and TV shows, but who was he and why is he famous?

Who was Robin Hooda ?

According to legend, Robin Hooda was an outlaw who lived with his “Merry Men” in Sherwood Forest in the heart of Nottinghamshire. Most representations of Robin Hooda show him from head to toe in forest green and with his trusty bow and arrow – in fact, he is said to have been the best archer of all time and to hit targets from a great distance with the greatest accuracy.

Over the centuries, Robin Hood has accumulated more and more unique traits, fabulous stories, and surrounding characters. Historical records have neither confirmed nor denied whether Robin Hooda was actually the hero we portray him as. But if you can orient yourself by medieval English folklore, he’s one of England’s most famous anti-heroes.

When did Robin Hooda live?

Although it has been widely discussed, it is generally accepted that Robin Hood lived in England during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart. Although modern popular culture portrays him as a strong supporter of the king in the late 12th century, the first literary mention of Robin Hood didn’t appear until 1377.

According to the Sloane manuscripts, Robin Hood was born in Lockersley (probably modern-day Loxley), South Yorkshire, in 1160. Some chroniclers say he fought alongside Lionheart in the Crusades before returning to England to find that his land was confiscated by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham

What did Robin Hooda do?

Not only is Robin Hood a fantastic archer, he’s arguably best known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. As an outlaw in Nottinghamshire, Robin Hood fought against the sheriff for the rights of the oppressed.

According to legend, Robin spent a lot of time near Whitby in Yorkshire – now known as Robin Hood’s Bay. Here he had a friendly archery competition with Little John, the first lieutenant and deputy of the Merry Men.

All you need to know about Robin hooda

robin hooda

Robin Hooda, legendary outlaw hero in a series of English ballads, some of which date back to at least the 14th century. Robin Hooda was a rebel, and many of the most striking episodes in the stories about him depict how he and his companions robbed and killed officials in authority and distributed the profits to the poor. Their most common enemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, a local central government agent (although internal evidence from the early ballads makes it clear that the action took place primarily in South Yorkshire, not Nottinghamshire). Other enemies were wealthy ecclesiastical landowners. Robin treated women, the poor, and people of humble status with courtesy. Much of the impetus for his revolt against authority came from popular displeasure with the laws of the forest that restricted hunting rights. The early ballads in particular show the cruelty that was an inevitable part of medieval life.

Numerous attempts have been made to prove that there was a historical Robin Hooda, although references to the legend by medieval writers make it clear that the ballads themselves were the only evidence of its existence available to them. A popular modern belief that it dates back to the time of Richard I probably comes from a “family tree” made by an 18th century antiquarian William Stukeley. None of the various claims identifying Robin Hood with any particular historical figure has received much support, and the outlaw’s existence may never have been anything but legendary.

The authentic Robin Hood ballads were the poetic expression of popular aspirations in northern England during a tumultuous era of baronic rebellions and agricultural discontent that culminated in the peasant revolt of 1381. The subject of the free but persecuted outlaw enjoying the forbidden hunt in the forest and outsmarting or killing the law enforcement officers naturally irritated the common people.

Although many of the best-known Robin Hooda ballads are post-medieval, there is a core that can safely be ascribed to the Middle Ages. These are Robin Hood and the Monk, Robin Hood and Guy from Gisborne, Robin Hood and the Potter and the Lytyll Gesture by Robin Hode. During the 16th century and later, the essential character of the legend was skewed by the suggestion that Robin was a fallen nobleman, and playwrights, eager to adopt this new element, increased the romantic appeal of the stories, but robbed them of their social bite. The post-medieval ballads (with which Robin lost a companion, Maid Marian) also lost most of their liveliness and poetic value, no doubt through the loss of the original social impulse that gave them life.

About Sherwood Forest

Over the past few centuries, Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood have become synonymous. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the forest every year to learn more about the location of these famous stories.

What is Sherwood Forest?

Sherwood Forest is a royal forest in Nottinghamshire famous for its historical association with local folk hero Robin Hood. This area has been forested since the end of the last Ice Age and today the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve comprises over 1,000 acres of forest.

With fascinating history, winding bike paths and sparkling lakes, over 350,000 tourists visit the Sherwood Forest every year.

Why is Sherwood Forest associated with Robin Hood ?

Widely known as the home and setting of Robin Hood’s most famous adventures, Sherwood Forest inspires countless visitors to discover the home of this local folk hero. Walk under the towering ancient oak trees and imagine the place Robin and his Merry Men called their home, hunting ground, and hiding place.

Although closely associated with Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood is everywhere on the English map: Robin Hood’s Well and Robin Hood’s Bay are in Yorkshire, while Robin Hood’s Cave and Robin Hood’s Stop are in Derbyshire.

What is there to do at Sherwood Forest?

If you feel inspired to find out more about Robin Hood, the Merry Men and their exploits in Sherwood Forest, then there’s no place better to visit than the forest itself. Strap on your walking boots and wander through the forest until you arrive at the Major Oak. With a trunk measuring over 10 metres in circumference, the Major Oak is over 1000 years old and was previously voted as Britain’s favourite tree. It is said that Robin and his Merry Men would sleep under this very tree.

Aside from reminders of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is also home to walking and cycling trails, Go Ape, open air concerts and adventure play areas. There is also an annual Robin Hood Festival, exhibiting jousting, archery, sword fights and live action performances from Robin Hood and his Merry Men.


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