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Robin Hood - medieval hero or myth?

Piers Plowman is a poem by William Langland that dates back to c. 1370-90. There is a line in it that reads "But I can rymes of Robyn Hood" - this is the first mention of the world-famous English outlaw in literature. It has been argued that Robin Hood may have been a real person, most likely living more than a century before this poem was published.

Dan the Info-man
The image shows the Robin Hood statue at Nottingham Castle in England. The statue was unveiled in 1952.

Robin Hood (2010)

Robin Hood (2010) Official Theatrical Trailer - Russell Crowe. Just one of many movies made about the famous thief!

Dan the Info-man
This 2010 film by Ridley Scott was a gritty affair with Russell Crowe playing a man called Robin Longstride who bonds with the father of Sir Robert Loxley.

So if he wasn't a myth...who was he?

There have been many candidates for Robin Hood. There were quite a few Robert Hod's around during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) for a start! There is someone known as Robin Hood of Wakefield and a Robin Hood of York who both lived at the right time to be considered the legendary outlaw. A historical renegade called Roger Godberd has been suggested as being Robin Hood; according to research he was living in Sherwood Forest in 1267 and commanded many men! Definitely a potential real-life Robin...

Dan the Info-man
Before Crowe, Costner et al. there was Errol Flynn! The Adventures of Robin Hood was released in 1938 and also starred Olivia de Havilland.

More candidates...

There is also the possibility that the name "Robin Hood" was completely made up to confuse the authorities. Another theory is that the name being used was "Robin of the Wood," which became "Robin Wood" and then "Robin Hood." It doesn't really matter to most people whether he was real or not; stories about the outlaw stealing from the rich and giving to the poor have become entrenched in modern culture.

Dan the Info-man
Kevin Costner played the hero in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham was a scene-stealer!

Always "Robin" from someone...

Robin Hood has been part of English folklore for centuries, featuring in poems, stories, ballads, theater, television and film. The character has been transformed into a heroic swordsman and expert archer, who will fight for honor, justice...and, of course, Maid Marian's attention!

Dan the Info-man
Cary Elwes got to play the man in Lincoln Green in 1993's Robin Hood: Men in Tights. This comedy by Mel Brooks showed the lighter side of living in medieval "Rottingham"!

Sherwood Forest is in Nottinghamshire (East Midlands of England)

An interested observer may visit many places associated with Robin Hood. There is Sherwood Forest where he supposedly lived with his Merry Men. There is a grave in Kirklees Priory (West Yorkshire) associated with the outlaw and there is his claimed birthplace at Loxley (South Yorkshire). It is possible to travel for miles around this beautiful part of the UK and find many locations somehow linked to Robin Hood!

Famous Merry Men...and Women

Robin Hood had a band of Merry Men to help him when he was robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Famous names such as Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Alan-a-Dale and Much the Miller's Son were among them. However, arguably the most famous "Merry Man" was Maid Marian - never afraid to be in the thick of any business the forest-dwellers got up to!

Dan the Info-man
This image of Robin Hood, Maid Marian and the Merry Men comes from the British television show Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986).

Robin Hood country

Dan the Info-man
This map shows many of the places most associated with Robin Hood. Just don't get too lost trying to visit them all!
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