23 January 2011


"I do not know my paternoster perfectly as the priest sings it.
But I know the rhymes of Robin Hood and Randolph, earl of Chester".
- William Langland (1377)

...And of course Nottingham has been long-associated with Robin Hood and his band of merry men who lived, according to legend, deep in the greenwood that covered most of lowland England in the middle ages. Close to the ancient Castle Rock, there now stands a bronze statue of the famous "outlaw":-
Teasing out the truth about Robin Hood from all the tales and films would be a challenging task for any scholar. Was he a force for good or was he simply a thief? Nobody can even say for sure when he lived. There's a possible range of two hundred years from 1150 to 1350. His origins are also very uncertain and even the authenticity of his grave in the grounds of Kirklees Abbey is disputed.

Nottinghamshire claimed him but some evidence suggests his stomping ground encompassed South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. Sometimes known as Robin of Loxley, it is perhaps significant that on the northwestern fringes of Sheffield there is a river valley through which the River Loxley runs, passing by what was once the rural hamlet of Loxley. In nearby Hathersage, the churchyard boasts the grave of Robin Hood's lieutenant, Little John.

In ancient English mythology, there are many references to a benevolent life-giving spirit known as The Green Man. He also lived deep in the shadows of the greenwood and was a reference point for our pre-Christian ancestors. The Green Man ensured the cycling of seasons and the blessings of fertility. And of course, Robin Hood was also a "green man". Perhaps stories evolved about him in the middle ages, merely to provide a more current embodiment of that older god-like spirit from the forest.
One of the Green Man carvings in Beverley Minster, East Yorkshire


  1. I have always looked at the story of Robin Hood as perhaps the embodiment of more than one person. Even in those days, if there had been such a person, I believe there would be some substantial record.

    But, what do I know? It is a lovely, lovely story with lots of moral lessons for children and adults.

  2. Prithee, do tell us, was there a myth also involving The Green Man and a maid named Marian?

  3. MOUNTAIN Perhaps it's the idea of Robin Hood that matters more than historical accuracy
    RHYMES Forsooth Sheriff, indeed there was and he did ravish her by fair Sherwood glen in the trysting time. It is said that their issue did fleeth to the setting sun beyond the great ocean's furthest horizon and there did maketh a New World and it was good and they called it Greensborough.

  4. Robin hood stories were part of my childhood and then came the TV series and I loved them all. I had never heard of the Green Man till a guided tour of Roslyn Chapel in Scotland. The Green Man there starts off young and ages as you move around the walls. Now, in England, I see him everywhere though I have never heard of him here - we don't have any of that type of ancient stuff here (though we do have ancient Aboriginal art ).
    Your link between Robin Hood and the other Green Man is an interesting thought.

  5. There is a theory that Mrs P is a descendant of the Loxley family of Sheffield and Robertus de Loxley, one of the candidates for the origin of Robin Hood. You can read more here.

  6. There's also the Wakefield/Doncaster highwayman Robert Hode to contend with, who could've been a contender- hence why Doncaster airport is known as Robin Hood.

  7. You should also look to pull together world mythologies for an interesting book- fiction hopefully or if not some factual piece of writing.

  8. I thought a paternoster was an elevator?

  9. HELEN I have a romantic view of the aboriginals and how they lived prior to European invasion. I would love to see some of their rock art. Have you seen some of the original artistry?
    SHOOTING P You are lucky to have hooked someone with such a lineage. She must have been drunk at the time.
    BANGKOK OWL Yes. I think the name "Robert Hode" appears on the disputed gravestone.
    JOHN GRAY There is a "paternoster" lift in the Arts Tower of Sheffield University. I guess you have probably ridden on it. But the word itself - pater= father, noster = our. Our father... Originally it was a religious chant that like the lift went round and round.

  10. Did you know there is a trysting tree at Todwick, nr Sheffield that is said to be Robin Hood's. Actually it's a replacement tree (is a little spindly thing - not something magnicant like the Major Oak) I can't remember all the details but you might be able to Google it.


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