...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