Robin Hood, the cheeky, romanticised figure in folklore, with his band of merry men, 'robing the rich to feed the poor' is known all around the world and is the subject of many movies, TV shows, plays, books and ballads.
Sherwood Forest is the spiritual home of the 12th century English outlaw and locating the visitor's centre here, would put this legendary location back on the map and cement these past associations. The investment would also help towards future protection and management of this historic forest.
|Ref: Robin Hood Memorial in Nottingham, Wikimedia Commons|
|Ref: B0412, North Auckland Research Centre|
If the proposal is accepted, the 17-hectare attraction would open in spring 2015.
|Ref: AWNS-19400117-40-3, Sir George Grey Special Collections|
The early ballads clearly depict Robin Hood as a yeoman. Although the exact meaning of this term has morphed over time, it always referred to commoners and in the 14th century this included artisans (such as millers).
|Ref: AWNS-19250910-53-1, Yeoman of the Guard, Sir George Grey Special Collections|
The first mention of a quasi-historical Robin Hood is given in Andrew of Wyntoun's 'Orygynale Chronicle', written in about 1420. It includes the following lines (from 1283), which have little contextual explanation:
'Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude
Wayth-men ware commendyd gude
In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale
Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale'.
Whilst there is little concrete evidence for the association of Robin Hood's origins stemming from myths and folklore (such as the Green Man of the Forest), his role in May Day games could suggest pagan connections.
|Ref: Ephemera, Posters, Books, 1936, Sir George Special Collections|
|Ref: Footprints 04600, Waiuku rugby players in fancy dress, including one player dressed as Robin Hood, South Auckland Research Centre|