Wolfshead: History of Robin Hood

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Nineflowers
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Postby Nineflowers » 27 Jun 2004, 10:54

British people of a certain age had a good laugh about 20 years ago when, on the motorways (freeways), they started putting little mottos on the county names. So for Nottinghamshire you now get *Nottinghamshire - Robin Hood County*, or *Stratford - Home of Shakespeare*. To us that's just plain embarrassing but we aassumed it was done for foreign tourists.
But Nottinghamshire *bagged* Robin Hood first.

As for tour guides, it would depend on which one you got. Most Yorkshirefolk do know that Robin Hood is a Yorkshireman, and as probably the county with the biggest ego in the UK, you'd think we'd do more about it. (The name for Yorkshire used to be *God's Own County*, that's how much we like ourselves.... The nearest thing you have to us in the US is Texans :D )

Thing is, poor old Nottinghamshire has nothing but their appropriated Robin Hood - Yorkshire has a wealth of stuff with Jorvik and the Brontes and all those TV spin offs about vets and policemen in the Dales, etc, so I think poor old Robin gets a bit lost in the welter of cultural tat.

Also, there is summat in the Yorkshire character that makes us probably the most wary of outsiders of all English, if not British, people. When I was a child (And I'm not that old....) we snapped into talking dialect if outsiders walked past. We had teachers from the next county and if they passed us in the corridors at school we'd speak *broad Yorkshire* to confound them. :D We're a cussed lot and we may well know our heritage but not shout it from the roof tops as we've seen how Haworth etc has been turned into a sort of bronte Disneyland.

But as I say I think at the root of it is our culture - which you can't really pick up from books but the other English people reading this know what I mean - as we are taciturn, proud and keep our own counsel. This is dying out a bit now, but people my age and older were brought up in a very different culture.

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Postby Wolfwalker » 28 Jun 2004, 05:35

Nineflowers,
If you want sad appropriations... Here in Newfoundland, just to the norheast of St. John's. The capital, is Robin Hood Bay... ironically it's claim to fame over the past half century has been that it is the site of the largest landfill dump in the province, with all manner of rubbish coming from a catchment area of as much as 300Km away! Makes you look at Robin taking from the rich in a whole different light doesn't it. :razz:
Just thought you'd be interested to add that to the list...
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Postby Stormcloud » 28 Jun 2004, 12:37

Hey, I'm not arguing whether Nottingham or Yorkshire should have Robin Hood - I've lived in Nottingham since I was 5, but my family comes from Derbyshire and Yorkshire, and my fiance is a Yorkshireman! :lol:

I rarely visit Sherwood Forest though, they've made it too toursity and have killed its atmosphere a little for me. Plus I have always found it sad to see the Major Oak the way it is. Whether it was the hiding place of Robin Hood or not, it should be allowed to die with dignity, not held up with huge pieces of wood and chains - it looks like a prisoner! I understand they wanted to preserve it, but I feel enough is enough now.

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Postby Wolfwalker » 28 Jun 2004, 22:18

Isuppose when it can't be kept up as it is now, some silly buggers will craft a fireglass replica of it and "plant" it with a concrete ballasted base!
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Postby EarthWard » 28 Jun 2004, 23:10

That is sad about the tree. It should inspire a tragically good poem.

When was Robin Hood seen as a Saxon or has he always been seen as a Saxon? Robin does not seem to be a Saxon name but I have always thought of him as a type of Saxon hero.
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Postby hawthorn » 28 Jun 2004, 23:30

Greetings all,
I was born in Nottingham and grew up very near to Sherwood forest. we often used to walk around the woods, and I as I grew up the myths and stories of Robin Hood was well known and references in speech and everyday life was common..

I am lucky enough to have a piece of wood from the Major Oak, that my grandad bought 30 odd years ago from a sheltered training workshop that was located in the forest. I guess it is the center parks complex now. :???:

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Postby Allen W. Wright » 29 Jun 2004, 15:49

In response to something EarthWard asked me about why does Robin have a Norman name if he's a Saxon hero,

The Saxon nature of Robin is a pretty late development. There are touches of it in the 1700s, but it only becomes a major part of the story in the 1800s, with Ivanhoe. I think some of that is a post-Napoleonic bit of propaganda. And then it's 19th century national identity building.

Stephanie Barczeweski (sp?) argues that the Saxon element originally played into the Norman Yoke method. The sense, fairly but not entirely exagerated, that the Saxon times were a grand democracy and that's where all the modern British values sprung from. So, the sense that Saxons were morally superior to Normans because of their laws, etc.

However, she shows that it became much more a matter of racial superiority as those sorts of attitudes became more common. And there are some pro-Saxon elements in certain Robin Hood stories that do sound eeriely like Nazi propaganda.

I think it's become a moral argument again, rather than a racial one. But there are moments that give me the wiggins.

There were 19th century stories that strongly implied that King Arthur was Saxon, and you know how nuts that is.

The fabricated pedigree of Robin Hood by Dr. William Stukeley in 1746 says that some of Robin's ancestors were Normans. (There was one 19th century attempt to connect Robin with the Saxon earl Waltheof instead, because they didn't like the Norman element in Stukeley's Fitzooth pedigree. The Waltheof theory was not adopted by many, although there's one internet site that heavily advocates this.)

I suspect really that Norman names would have become pretty common among the English.

There's a line in Robin of Sherwood where Robin's stirring up Saxon feeling with allusions to the battle of Hastings. "That's an old battle to bring up," Will Scarlet says. "It was a long time ago." To which Robin responds "And what's happened to the English since then, WILL?" I've always assumed that the way Robin puts the stress on Will's name that he's making a point about Saxons now having the conqueror's name.

Allen

P.S.: I noticed that some of my forward and back links on the Wolfshead pages were messed up. I've fixed them.

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Postby Kernos » 29 Jun 2004, 16:01

What a wonderful topic! I think most of us would consider the Robin Hood legend to be worthy of Druidic study. I think it has the general and timeless appeal of the Arthurian legend.

Earthward has certainly been plucking the bow of late...

Wouldn't this make a wonderful article for the OBOD website - an entire area in fact as we should have for the Arthurian legends.

:mracorn:

PS: I hope the HINT was not too subtle...
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Postby EarthWard » 29 Jun 2004, 22:36

There's a line in Robin of Sherwood where Robin's stirring up Saxon feeling with allusions to the battle of Hastings. "That's an old battle to bring up," Will Scarlet says. "It was a long time ago." To which Robin responds "And what's happened to the English since then, WILL?" I've always assumed that the way Robin puts the stress on Will's name that he's making a point about Saxons now having the conqueror's name
I love that! It is so Shakespeare like.

Allen is just a fountain of knowledge on this subject. Maybe he can help with a Robin Hood OBOD page if we promote his site a little. He did put a lot of hard work and research into it.
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Postby EarthWard » 30 Jun 2004, 01:21

Oh and nobody has even asked what Wolfshead means! I thought that was the coolest.
Allen, I am having trouble finding the meaning of it on your site again but when I did read it the meaning was that if you became an outlaw the law would call "Wolfshead" on you. Could you imagine the fear of that! Everybody would be hunting you like a wolf! So you could imagine how much cunning it would take to survive after wolfshead had been called on you.
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Postby Wolfwalker » 30 Jun 2004, 03:03

I can... :wolfmoon: rather vividly!
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Postby Nineflowers » 30 Jun 2004, 14:53

And people got paid a set amount for a wolf's head, as a sort of bounty, ditto for capturing outlaws. So the term *wolfshead* was meant to be very derogatory, ie: *You're worth about as much as a dead wolf*.

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Postby Wolfwalker » 30 Jun 2004, 16:43

The whole 'bounty' is something I have a problem with anyway... rats from the dump area is one thing, but once you get beyond diseased vermin and start exterminating the wildlife... ie. Wolves, Coyotes, Black Bears, Foxes, Kangaroos, etc; then I think you're state, province or whatever legal jurisdiction you're under has set a rather dangerous precedent for wilflife management and eco-balance of the planet in general.
blessings on our planet and it's wildlife., Peter
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Postby Nineflowers » 30 Jun 2004, 21:38

I'd guess the whole bounty thing died out by the late middle ages. People must have felt the wolves were a very real danger to them - we tend to forget, living in more sentimental <and safer!> times.

Outlawry continued throughout the Middle Ages, far beyond Robin Hood's time. In one episode at least of *Robin of Sherwood*, the writer Richard Carpenter makes reference to the fact Sherwood (and everywhere else like it!) was crawling with outlaws, not all of them the sort you'd romanticise! In his first episode, the other writer Anthony Horowitz uses the legend of Adam Bell, another medieval outlaw, to great effect.

I think a recent edition of the British magazine *Medieval History* had an article on outlaws, but I seem to remember it wasn't very in depth. Interesting, though.

Anyone else here shoot with longbows? I've just learned in the past year (Another by product of Awen!)... it's great stuff.
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