Row over origins of 'our' Robin Hood

A merry row has flared up yet again over the origins of Sherwood Forest’s legendary hero Robin Hood.

Saturday, 25th December 2021, 4:30 pm

It comes after national newspapers The Guardian and Daily Mail re-ignited the age-old debate citing a new book Reclaiming Robin Hood, which claims the notorious outlaw was a Yorkshireman.

Dan Eaton’s book says a stone behind Loxley Primary School marks the birthplace of Robin – known as Robin of Loxley.

The Sheffield Council-sponsored book is part of a campaign to ‘bring Robin home’ – and academics, experts and others have been firing arrows into the debate.

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Richard Townsley dressed as The Sheriff of Nottingham pictured by the Major Oak with Robin Hood's outlaws

Coun Merlita Bryan, current Sheriff of Nottingham, told The Guardian: “‘Robin Hood is as much from Sheffield as Jarvis Cocker is from Nottingham. Everyone knows his arch-rival wasn’t the sheriff of Sheffield.

“‘We get it – Yorkshire wants a piece of the legendary action, but really everyone knows that he was from Nottingham.’”

It has prompted a reaction from Sherwood Forest guide and Mansfield historian Richard Townsley who has called on Chad readers to reclaim the legend from Nottingham city.

Mr Townsley, who champions Robin’s arch enemy the Sheriff of Nottingham – highlighting the fact the title was historically Sheriff of Nottinghamshire – said: “These two cities should back off – Robin is ours.

Richard Townsley studies the ancient manuscript with the first official mention of Robin Hood

“He belongs to Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire not the city. He is a country boy, not a city lad.

“It’s the season of pantomime, Robin is like Cinderella, with the two ugly sisters of Sheffield and Nottingham councils fighting over his inheritance.

“He rightly belongs in the green forests of Sherwood.”

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The manuscript with "definitive proof" of Robin Hood's connection to Sherwood

Tourism

The historic heart of Sherwood Forest is marked with a plaque in Mansfield town centre, and most of stories about Robin come from the forest area and villages around Mansfield.

Mr Townsley said: “He is ours. Nottingham city claimed him to boost its tourism, but why does Mansfield and the county of Nottinghamshire not have a say?

"Our politicians and councils never speak up for our claim to Robin, it could do so much for our tourism, we have let the city adopt him and now Sheffield.”

Nottingham's famous Robin Hood statue.

Mr Townsley points to a rare medieval manuscript kept at Lincoln Cathedral library which holds the very first to mention of Robin Hood.

He said: “It provides undeniable evidence that Robin belongs to Sherwood Forest.

“Mansfield should make more of him, for our own tourism. Our politicians and councils should stand up for him and our connection.”

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Richard Townsley Sherwood Forest guide and Mansfield historian as the Sheriff of Nottingham