Ancient manuscript with first mention of Robin Hood 'confirms he doesn’t belong in Nottingham' says 'Sheriff'

A rare medieval manuscript kept at Lincoln holds the very first to mention of Robin Hood at Sherwood.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 6:00 am

Richard Townsley, who recently called for Chad readers to reclaim the Robin Hood legend, says it provides “undeniable evidence” that the notorious outlaw more closely belongs to Sherwood Forest, and the area around Mansfield, rather than Nottingham.

The 13th century vellum book contains the first known piece of writing which links Robin Hood to the area and is kept at Lincoln Cathedral Library.

Inside the manuscript, is line of doggerel, scribbled on a blank leaf, believed to have been added around the 15th century.

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Richard Townsley studies the fascinating book in the cathedral library at Lincoln.

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The book itself, would have been used for many years as a teaching aid, and according to a description on the International Robin Hood bibliography, the inaccuracies of the Latin grammar suggest the lines are the work of a young boy.

It reads “Robyn hod in scherewod stod hodud and hathud hosut and schod ffourAnd thuynti arowus he bar In hits hondu.”

Translated: “Robin Hood in Sherwood Stood, hooded, wearing a hat, hose and shows, with four and twenty arrows bore in his hand.”

The ancient book with the first reference to Robin Hood

Richard, a guide at Sherwood Forest, who dresses as the notorious character the Sheriff of Nottingham (he points out the Sheriff’s full title historically was the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire) said: “It was a great privilege to see the 13th century Manuscript of Johannes Garlandus, Accentuarius at Lincoln Cathedral.

"The line about Robin Hood appears at the bottom of a blank page in a 13th century Latin grammar book. But the verse is written in a 15th century hand, possibly that of a bored schoolboy, jotting down a scrap of what would have been in the oral tradition about Robin Hood. It is very difficult to read, it is basically a school boy’s doodle.

"Part of a poem or rhyme, it is our very first known written reference to Robin in Sherwood. It is not new, historians have known about it for years, but it’s quite special. I’d always wanted to see it.

The Sheriff of Nottingham with the band of outlaws by the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest

“The recent redevelopment of Nottingham Castle has seen Nottingham appropriate our hero. Never did Robin belong there, he belongs undeniably to Sherwood Forest, with closer links to the area of Mansfield, right across the Chad patch, not Nottingham.

"We should make more of it.”

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The section of the medieval book which has the first written reference to Robin Hood.