I was born in Nottingham, and lived in Nottinghamshire until my parents decided to migrate to Australia. Sherwood Forest was not too far away from where we lived , and we did go past it in our travels, though we never stopped to visit it properly.
I grew up with the legend of Robin Hood. As a child I was captivated and enthralled. Comics, books, TV shows I devoured.
But as I grew up I began to take a more serious historical perspective. The legend is now so embelished it has become more fantasy. The origins are of a working man who gathers a band of men in Sherwood Forest and take to robbery. The story becomes embelished with Robin becoming a man of royal blood, who has a girlfriend and who robs from the rich and gives to the poor, and who fights to right injustices.
Evidence of the legend is found in written work in the period 500 – 1500. William Langland wrote of Robin Hood in ‘Piers Ploughman’ in 1377, after which there are several works that bring up the story. After 1400 the legend even takes on a religious flavour, a salvation style story.
The legend has remained just that with no evidence of a veifiable real person. The story seems to have developed out of discontent among the peasnts and workers, where a person comes along and restores justice. Academic research has failed to find a real Robin Hood. Nonetheles, I really like the legend because it speaks of how culture dreams of a better world, and for me that’s how legends are helpful, they lift us up. It doesn’t matter that Robin Hood isn’t real, it matters that there is a narrative of hope and justice.