Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King  | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of PontefractAlice De Laci and John of GauntBarnsdale Gallery | A suspected compiler of the Geste | Images of Robyn Hode

          with particular reference to Yorkshire
A time line The Ballads
Social Changes Cawthorne & Hathersage
Monastic Sites & Religious orders Little John's Thighbone
Some Records The Wakefield Region
The King's Court Balladeer Recent Discoveries
  An overture to the film 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves'


Did a person by the name of Robin Hood ever exist? I have evidence that he did not. The reason being that this was merely a ballad name. There are persons in history who are named Robert Hod, Hode, Hoode, Hood &c. but these are legitimate names that in all probability bear no relation to the ballad hero, particularly those that pre-date the popularity of the Robin Hood ballads.
therefore, I would contend that there is little  to be gained in trying to identify a person of that name in any historical source. Some will point out that  there are persons calling themselves by such a name but these  both legitimately pre-date and illegitimately post-date the real-life character upon whom the ballads were based. However, before despondency, rejoice! for  this ballad name was based upon someone who did exist. he was not just an ordinary person but has been widely mentioned in footnote history, overlooked and unrecognised. After a few false trails [and there are many ] I am in the process of writing my findings and hope to have them published in the near future. 



A DOUBLY REFRACTED CRYPTIC PALIMPSEST                                                                                                                                                                             

James Ohlgren of Cambridge University made a study of the tales of Robin Hood for thirty years But he never identified the person upon whom the ballads were based.  He has stated that "Little John's" grave was 14 feet long. However, I find that this ballad name was not necessarily based upon the character's height or lack of it, but upon a word-play using his real name. Such doubly refracting palimpsests are typical of the thieves that lie in wait for the unwary and cursory researcher. I support the contention that Robin was not an earl  of Huntingdon  nor any earl but there is a good reason why this attachment was made in folklore. The person upon whom the ballad character was based was not from the ruling descendant Norman classes but as the Geste  insists, a tenant farmer. 
After an exhaustive study professor James C. Holt concluded what many researchers try to avoid,  that there was more than one person titling themselves as Robin Hood. After a long personal study, I agree with  this statement, but there was one man who preceded all those who claimed his ballad name .The 19th century writers placed Robin's life in the latter part of the 1100's. According to Picard4 Robin Hood may have been living in the latter part of the 1100's but it is more likely this person lived in the late 1200's and the beginning of 1300's between Edward I's &  II's reigns. that a Robin Hod/Robert Hood lived during Edward II's reign appears in Edward II's accounts books where payments were made for his services. yet as stated above he is not the model for the ballad hero.  It has been speculated that the finding of a Robert Hode of Wakefield may be the same person as found in Edward II's account books but this too is speculation  which has never been substantiated.

Time Line for the period
Henry II  1133-1189 1154-1189
Richard I 1157-1199 1189-1199#
John 1134-1216 1199-1216
Henry III 1207-1272 1216-1272*
"The Hammer of Scotland"
1239-1307 1272-1307
"First Prince of Wales"
1284-1327(murdered) 1307-1327@


Unfortunately  the film 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves' was once again falsely set during the reign of king John. This seems to be an enduring theme but was a fiction that evolved from the work of  Scottish chroniclers such as Andrew de Wyntoun and John Mair. However it is correct that Robyn fought against tyranny as he saw it and also risked everything for love, but not only for the love of a woman but also for the love of great wealth she brought to him as her inheritance. This was normal in medieval times when women were initially prized for the wealth they brought to their future family. If romantic love blossomed then that might provide the grist for screen writers. The idea of romantic or courtly love [lovers used to 'court' each other] was brought from the French court by Eleanor of Aquitane, wife of King Louis VII of France and later King Henry II of England. There is little doubt that the real Robyn did romantically love his wife if the number of their children is anything to go by.

Social Changes
The 1100's  Saw some great social  changes such as the:
i) Plighting of the Troth, a civil ceremony  which was replaced by a Church wedding. The Church made good its claims that without its blessing baptism & marriage was invalid.
ii) The heavy plough and coulter board were developed.
iii) Cistercian monks (White Monks) were establishing religious houses.
IV) The imposition of the French-Norman language upon the courts and parliament which lasted until Edward II's reign.

Monastic Sites

Kirkstall Abbey nr. Leeds. 1152 cistercian, established by monks from Fountains Abbey.
Kirklees Nunnery nr. Huddersfield. 1100-1130 Reputed to be where Robin was taken after being shot with an arrow. His burial place is marked by a large stone structure built in the 1800's near the Cistercian Nunnery.
Nostell Priory nr. Barnsley. 1120-1132 Augustinian Priory.*
Fountains Abbey. 1132 Cistercian, 1148 reconstructed after a fire 
1179 reconstructed a second time after fire. 
"Friar" Tuck reputed to have been trained here. Tuck is reputed to have been living in Skelldale near Pateley Bridge.8
However Friars did not enter England until 1225.
Priory of St. Mary Magdalene, Lund near Barnsley.
 Founded by Adam FitzSwein in 1154.
A Cluniac Priory which was in conflict with St. John's Priory of Pontefract for about 100 years.

*Sometime before 1120 Ralph Alave the chaplain & confessor to Henry I fell ill at Pontefract on the way to a Scottish campaign with the king. He hunted in the wood around Nostell and came across hermits, Saxon monks who had dedicated their church to St. James the fisherman and a fish pond "Nostell Lake". Impressed by their life he asked the king for an Augustinian Priory dedicated to St. Oswald king of Northumbria, this was granted. In 1650 Nostell was granted to the Winn family who came from Wales.

The Cistercians were a particularly strict form of the Benedictine rule established by Robert de Molesme in 1098 at Cistercium or Citeaux, south of Dijon, Burgundy, France. The Cistercians established sites in inhospitable places such as Fountains Abbey, these places later became luxurious and the clergy powerful.
1150 Bolton Priory ('Abbey') was established by the Augustinian canons.
1170 The Crusades began, local stories say Robin Hood may have been born on the North Yorkshire Moors in this year and been adopted by a farmer at Hartoft.7
#1199 Richard I's death on Crusades.
1200's The "Rise of the Monasteries" which mined coal and reared large flocks of sheep.

Other religious groups which entered England were the :

i) Franciscans or Grey Friars, founded in 1209 by an Italian, St. Francis of Assisi  who arrived in England in 1224 and spread the credo rapidly.
ii) Dominicans or Black Friars, were established later in 1215 by the Spaniard St. Dominic. These last two groups forbade the ownership of property, they were Europe's missionaries, independent and despised for their poverty. This was the favourite Order of Edward II. The Black Friars were later used by the Pope to hunt out heresy during the Spanish Inquisition.


In the cathedral at Hereford is a 'curious map' which shows in the bottom right hand corner a forester leading two large hounds possibly 'gazehounds', a precursor to the greyhound. The forester is carrying a bow, a broad sword, a hunting horn, an arrow sheaved in the belt and a cudgel. He wears a tight fitting curte pie or short coat and hose, probably both of wool. The forester appears to be allowing the passage of a horseman with the words passe avant or 'go ahead' between them. Although in traditional colloquial depictions Robyn is shown wearing what is known as a Tyrolean hat, here the figure appears to have a feather and cloth bound to the head by a band. The map itself is dated to 1290- 1310 by M.B. Parkes, some hazard about 1306.








The Friar of Skelldale
"Robin Hood and his merry men set out to find the friar of Skelldale in order to put to the test his reputed virtuosity in the arts of self defence. The friar succeeded in depositing Robin in the middle of the river (Skell) ...... and the friar was thereafter Friar Tuck"8
Note : Fountains Abbey lies in Skelldale, the valley of the River Skell which joins the River Ure at Ripon,  West Yorkshire whilst Skelbrooke lies on the Skell Brook near Barnsdale, South Yorkshire

There is also a reference to Fountains Abbey holding the bow and arrows of R.H. which were held by the Armytage family of Kirklees after the reformation.

Robyn's other companions
Some of the names recorded in the later poems as being members of Robin's band were:
Much the Miller's son [in later ballads,  Midge], Jack Noakes, Ben Frow, Adam Carpenter, Gilbert Payn, John Silk, Will Curstan, Simon Scales, Gilbert Bolle, Thomas Warin, Harvey Bulleman, Will Sawyer, Will Stutly14 [Studley?] & Tom Fletcher.7
However there is no real evidence that these men were ever adherents of the ballad hero.

Will Scadlock he killd a  buck And Midge he killd a do, 
And Little John killd a hart of greece, Five hundred foot him fro.
From Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar.

Some records which may relate to our hero:
1199  A Cumberland Pipe roll mentioned a Robert Le Hood who lost the inheritance to his lands in Cumberland with the death of his father Edward in 1174 at Carlisle. Robert regained the lands in a court case from Richard son of Troite [David Pilling]

In 1225,  25th July at York Assizes there is a reference in court papers to Rob. Hod,  Later referred to as to Hobbehod, others later took the name. 5

1247 Date given by John Major as the death of Robin Hood, although no source for this statement is provided.

1262  The name Robin Hood was first used as a criminal alias for a KNOWN criminal. 5

~1275 birth year for Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke.

1291 The Crusades ended.

1294 death year for Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke near the vill of Barnsdale.

1307 Edward II Acceded to the throne, he was king to 1327 ( murdered at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire)
Flemish settlers were encouraged by Edward II to settle in England e.g. at Normanton.

1322 Thomas Plantagenet defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge by Edward II's army, 'contrariants' 1 who it is suggested by Joseph Hunter, hid in Barnsdale 'Forest'  in South Yorkshire. However there was no royal forest here, this mythical forest seems to have originated, at least in print, from John Leyland, Henry VIII's librarian and chronicler when he wrote 'the woodde and famose forest of Barnsdale'.16 

1323 Edward II visits Yorkshire, Lancashire &c. and spends two weeks at Nottingham.

1324 Edward II's household expenses shown for "Robyn Hod" and "Robert Hood" who were described as being in the King's Service.5

1347 date given by Joseph Hunter for the death of Robin Hood but was this the death date for the originator of the Geste narrative? For not only is this the death year for John 8th earl Warrene who held the manor of Wakefield, within which lay Kirklees priory. 

1348-9 Half the population of England died from "The Black Death", this caused much unrest as labour became scarce.

1350 - 1360 Margaret Savile was the prioress of Kirklees, it is considered that Margaret ['who was of Robyn's kin'] may have been used as  the basis for the  balladic Prioress of  'Church Lees' [Commonly associated with Kirklees] who appears in later verses of the Geste  that were  probably added later. 

1362 The official language of the law courts were changed from French to English.

1360-1377 It is predicted that the Geste was finally compiled and later appeared in print from the presses of 'Wynken De Worde' in 1510.

1400's Robin Hood stories take on the idea of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, Maid Marian* also appears in these stories.5

1866 John Matthew Gutch wrote "Robin Hood a collection of Poems , Songs and Ballads". There were over 40 poems, the oldest one published about 1380 but speculated to be  composed about 1280.7 This would make it contemporaneous with the living person if we take it that he lived in the latter part of the 1200's and early 1300's.

The King's Court Balladeer
Others have suggested that the most likely author of the early ballads was John Montague of Salisbury who was a favourite of Richard II. As such he was a contemporary of Chaucer and was thus familiar with both the Court of Edward III and Richard II.  When John of Gaunt died  in 1399 King Richard II took over his Lancastrian estates. Richard himself was probably murdered in 1400 by Henry Bolingbroke [later Henry IV] in Pontefract Castle by devious method of starvation, which left no signs of violent death upon the body.  In the same year John Montague 3rd in his line [8th] Earl of Salisbury was beheaded by a mob and his head was stuck on London Bridge the punishment for 'traitors' at the time. Thus ended the Montagues' Earldom of Salisbury.

The Ballads gave place names as follows:
Nottingham - caves and dungeons under the castle including Mortimer's Hole
Edwin's Tower Church (Edwinstowe S.E. of Bolsover) Robyn was supposedly married here.
Papplewick (N. of Nottingham) Alan-a-Dale supposedly married here
Hathersage, Derbyshire, supposedly Little John's Grave
St. Mary's Abbey (an Augustinian Church), York.
Pateley Bridge- A Friar named Michael Tuck was born here.
Fountains Abbey (Cistercian) Friar Tuck supposedly trained here as  a monk.
Gisburn and the Forest of Gisburn (between Settle and Barnoldswick)

      Road sign entering Robin Hood's Bay from Whitby

        Robin Hood's Bay East Coast of North Yorkshire also called Baytown
                                                                             Baytown about 1828

Mickleby- Much the miller supposedly came from here (north of Robin Hood's Bay)
Lastingham (N. Yorks) - crypt where Robin supposedly hid**
Hartoft End - Robin is claimed to have lived here with Marian and their son Mark.

I find that there is an historical reason why these North Yorkshire places are associated with Robyn Hode, but this association developed at least a generation after Robyn rode and strode in this part of England

**Lastingham is about a 1.5 miles  S.E. of Hartoft End. Rosedale Abbey lies about 2 miles to the north of Hartoft. To the south is Cropton which has a Norman Motte & Bailey ('Castle Mound') and about 5 miles to the south lies Pickering  Castle, originally Norman  which had additions in the late 1100's and early 1200's. The castle includes towers, walls & dungeons.9 In 1323 Edward II spent most of August here after an abortive campaign in Scotland and many other kings visited here for hunting purposes.  In 1399 Richard II was temporarily held prisoner here by Henry Bolingbroke who had landed in Holderness after being exiled.11


A 14th century painting on the walls of Pickering parish Church showing the death of St. Edmund and the dress of archers of the time. Note that the arrows are sheaved in a belt not a quiver.


Cawthorne & Hathersage
In 1882 The Rev. C.T. Pratt in his History of Cawthorne stated:
'There is a large ancient bow at Cannon Hall which is said to have belonged to Little John, the Lieutenant of Robin Hood's band.'
The late Rev. Charles Spencer-Stanhope gave the following traditional history of it to the Rev. Dr. Gatty, who inserted it as a note on page 3 of his Hallamshire (5th October 1865):
"There is a bow at Cannon Hall said to have been the bow of Little John bearing on it the name of Col. Naylor, 1715, who is said to have been the last man to have bent it and shot a deer with it. There was also a cuirass of chain mail and an arrow or two which were said to have belonged to Little John, but they were lost in the repairs of the house about 1780; but I have heard my father say that the cuirass had been much reduced by people stealing rings from it for memorials.

Hathersage in Derbyshire was an estate formerly belonging to the Spencer Family and was left by the last Spencer to the son of his eldest daughter, John Ashton Shuttleworth. In this churchyard was the head and footstone of Little John; and his bows, arrows and a cuirass, according to Ashmole, as I am told, used to hang up in the chancel of Hathersage Chuch.
Ashmole MS 1137:fol.147: "Little John lyes buried in Hathersage Churchyard within three miles from Castleton, near High Peake, with one stone set up at his head and another at his feete, but a large distance between them.
They say that a part of his bow hangs up in the said church. From thence they have long disappeared, and a bow etc. are found at Cannon Hall, a seat of The Spencers, who were also owners of Hathersage, and his bow was always known by the name of Little John's bow.
It is of spliced yew, of great size and above six feet long, though the ends where the horns were attached are broken off
The late James Shuttleworth who died about 1826, had the grave opened I fancy about 1780, the only bone which was found, beyond what instantly crumbled to dust were thigh bones of extraordinary length of 28.5 inches. I remember in the year 1820, when Sir Francis, father of Charles Wood Baronet, of Hickleton (now Lord Halifax), was at Cannon Hall, on my recalling this anecdote, sending up for the old woodman, Hinchcliffe, who told me; and he took a two-foot rule out of his pocket and extending the little slide showed the exact length. He mentioned besides that he was the gravedigger's son, and was present at the disinterring of the said bone............. Mr. Stanhope adds "My brother (Mr. John Stanhope) said the bow was removed from the Church to the Hall at Hathersage for better security"


At 28.5 inches long this thigh bone (femur) would be 28.5 x 2.5 cm = 71.25 cm long. From the photograph the length of an ordinary thigh bone is 51 cm long and the height of the skeleton is 174 cm i.e. the ratio is 51:174.
If an average persons height today is 5'8" (170cm) then 170:50 is the actual ratio for an average person.
Little John's was X:71.25 thus 170/50 = X/71.25 thus:

X = 170 x 71.25/50 = 122112.50 = 242.25 cm height

   =  8.08 feet
Enlarging  to the scale this appears as in the two skeletons in the photograph.

The Wakefield Region

On a map from the 1600's a forested area lay between Wakefield, Sheffield and Chesterfield. This area is crossed by a Medieval ridge top road (Packhorse Route) from Castleton and Hathersage and passed up the Derwent valley, across Midhope Moors, through Langsett, Penistone, Cawthorne, High Hoyland, Clayton West, Emley, West Bretton, Midgley, Milnethorpe, Sandal Magna and thence to Wakefield.

"Wakefield is described as the Birth Place of Robin Hood -The researches of that learned and accomplished antiquary, the late Joseph Hunter of the British Museum, the historian of Hallamshire and of South Yorkshire, led him to the conclusion that the old tradition of the existence and the exploits of Robin Hood, the famous outlaw of Sherwood Forest, was founded in fact, and that Robin Hood was a real personage,and a native of Wakefield, whose name appears in several transactions in the court at that place".

The Court Rolls for the manor of Wakefield for 1331-3 refer to a Robert Hood15. This is an unusual name as almost exclusively people in these rolls were referred to as "[First name] de [place of origin]"
There are a number of references to "Robert Hood of Newton"  which lies North Wakefield, just west of Pinder Fields :

1. On 29th November 1331 fifth year of Edward III's reign at the court in Wakefield stated that for Alverthorpe graveship, Robert Hood was mentioned to come to the next court over Robert's cattle "trampling and depasturing"  John Couper's "corn and rye in a field of Newton".

2. Robert Hood was fined 3 pence for taking a horse from John Couper, It is 15th December 1331 in the fifth year of Edward III's reign.

3. For 10th January 1332 for the graveship of Alverthorpe "Robert Hood of Newton plaintiff offers himself against Thomas de Schatterburn in a plea of trespass; because he does not state his case in the words of the court he is to take nothing by his suit and is amerced three pence for false claim"

"The investigations of Hunter, whilst they leave little doubt that Robin Hood was a real person, bring the date of his exploits down to a somewhat later period than that at which they are fixed in Walter Scott's incomparable "Ivanhoe," which, it will be remembered, places his life and times in the reigns of Richard I. and King John, or between the years 1189-1216. According to the researches of Hunter, Robin Hood lived in the reign of Edward II, 100 years later, and was one of the Yorkshire followers of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (who was at that time the lord of all this part of the West Riding), in his unfortunate insurrection against Edward II. in the year 1322.
As already mentioned,this Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who was at that time the representative of the younger branch of the royal family of Plantagenet, and also of the De Lacis, was defeated at Boroughbridge whereafter he was put to death at Pontefract; the whole of his estates, and those of his adherents, being confiscated by King Edward II. "

An accomlpice, the rebel earl, Humphrey De Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex, was speared 'in the fundament' from below the Borough Bridge whilst his son-in law, Roger de Clifford of Skipton, was captured and hung in chains in York Castle tower, now known as Clifford's Tower. It is considered here that it was at Boroughbridge on the morning of 17th March 1322 that the father of the author of the Geste was captured [not 'Robyn Hode'] in the town by the  surprise arrival of  the then sheriff of Yorkshire, Sir Simon Ward, along with about 400 men of the Yorkshire Array from York under the control of Henry De Faucumberg. Henry had been a sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire a few years earlier. After the Battle of Boroughbridge Edward II gave him the task of disspossessing the 'contrariants' after which Faucumberg was both sheriff of Yorkshire and Notts. & Derbs.

                                         Archery at the butts.

"According to Hunter's opinion Robin Hood was born in a family of some station and respect- ability, seated at Wakefield or in one of the villages near to it: and he, with many others, partook of the popular enthusiasm which supported the Earl of Lancaster, the great baron of these parts. When the Earl fell there was a dreadful proscription, but some of the persons who had been in arms, not only escaped the hazards of battle, but the arm of the executioner. Robin Hood was one of these, and he protected himself against the authorities of the times, partly by secreting himself in the depths of the woods of Barnsdale (between Campsall & North Elmsall), or the forest of Sherwood, and partly by intimidating the public officers, by the opinion which was abroad of his unerring bow, and his instant command of assistance from numerous comrades as skilled in archery as himself".
Both Burghwallis and Campsall,  situated in Barnsdale Forest are associated with Robin Hood. This neighbourhoods claim to him is as strong as, if not stronger than Nottinghamshire's sher - wood Forest."
Perhaps for 'Robin Hood' we should read here  'The author of the Geste'.

"He supported himself by slaying the wild animals found in the forests, and by levying a species of black mail on passengers along the great road from London to Berwick; occasionally seizing upon treasure which was being conveyed along the road, but with a courtesy which distinguished him from ordinary highway-men. He continued this course for about twenty months, from April, 1322, to December, 1323, when he fell into the hands of the king (Edward II.) personally, and was pardoned and made one of the valets, porteurs de la chambre, in the royal household. This office he held for about a year, when he again returned to the "greenwood shade, where he lived for an uncertain time. At last he resorted to the prioress of Kirklees, his own relative, for surgical assistance, and in that priory he died and was buried."1.
Hadrian's Wall, West of Housesteads [Vercovicivm] Roman Fort

This tree, now sadly diminished, found at the so-called 'Sycamore Gap' on Hadrian's wall has nothing to do with the ballads of Robyn Hode but provided a good opening backdrop to the film 'Prince of Thieves'. The location is actually called Rapishaw Gap and lies on a stretch of the Pennine Way between Cuddy's Crags to the east and Hotbank Crags to the west.


From the Annals of Yorkshire:
 "1247 - Robin Hood, the bold outlaw and skilful archer of the 13th century, resided occasionally at Kirklees, near Huddersfield, where it is said he died on the 20th of December, 1247, [J. Hunter differs from this by one hundred years1]  being suffered to bleed to death by a nun of the adjacent convent, to whom he had applied to take from him a portion of his redundant blood.
That his remains lie under an ancient cross at Kirklees, beyondthe precincts of the nunnery which stood there is by some admitted, but whether he was of noble parentage, or an outlaw of humbler birth is not equally clear. Robin Hood was a 'forester good as ever drew bow in the merrie green wood.' He was a thoroughly brave and generous man. We learn that though Robin was an outlaw, yet that 'he was no lover of blood; nay, he delighted in sparing those who sought his own life when they fell into his power; and he was beyond all examples even of knighthood, tender and thoughtful about women. Next to the ladies, he loved the yeomanry of England; he molested no hind at the plough, no thresher in the barn, no shepherd with his flocks; he was the friend and protector of the husbandman and hind, and woe to the priest who fleeced or the noble that oppressed them.'

There is a gravestone in the corner of Kirklees wood, about a good bow-shot from the Priory, which bears the following inscription :-
'Hear, undernead dis latil stean, Laiz Robert, Earl of Hunington; Naeareir vir as him sa geud, An pipl kauld him Robin Heud; Sick utlauz as hi, an iz men, Vil Inglande nivr si agen; Obit 24, Kal Dekembris, 1247."13
Today the supposed grave-site lies near the Three Nuns public House.

The author Brian Lewis also lays claim to Pontefract being a place frequented by Robin Hood, stating that South Yorkshire was his more likely "stamping ground"10.


Unfortunately there is no effigy of Robyn. Note that the chain-mail coif may represent the 'hood' so often referred to in the Geste. In all likelihood he would have sported a moustache, popular throughout the early medieval period.


Recent Discoveries
In March 2009 Dr. Julian Luxford of St. Andrews University in Fife, Scotland, announced the finding of a manuscript note which he estimates to have been added to the document by an unknown  monk sometime in  the 1460's. One of the points made in the short note, which mentions 'Robyn Hode', makes it clear that Robyn was  not well thought of in some sections of  English society. The tenor of the note indicates that the monk was using hearsay when it stated that it was 'according to popular opinion'.


'Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies.'
[Translation by Dr. Julian Luxford.]

It is also noted that the ballad hero's name in the Geste has the same spelling as that found in the manuscript located by Dr. Luxford ['Robyn Hode' not 'Robin Hood'.] It would appear from these two observations, and others further identified, that the monk who added the note was repeating  'oral history'. Such folklore had appeared in the wake of the popularisation of the Geste and perhaps other ballads by this time.* There is nothing to indicate that this note refers to the real life hero who inspired the ballads and this I find is the case. However, I find in one respect,  the note can be upheld, for there is little doubt that the real-life hero was not welcomed by all sections of the political spectrum. * This popularisation began from the second half of the 1300's [Simon Schama, History of Britain, 2000, p. 247.]

Generally, a person who did not respond to a request by the courts to attend was declared an outlaw. The term 'outlaw' or 'outlawed', seems to have become more common in the Calendar of Patent Rolls during  Edward III's reign. Alternative terms such as 'rebel' or 'evildoer' were perhaps more common before this time.

Generally, a person who did not respond to a request by the courts to attend was declared an outlaw. The term 'outlaw' or 'outlawed', seems to have become more common in the Calendar of Patent Rolls d

                     During  Edward III's reign. Alternative terms such as 'rebel' or 'evildoer' were perhaps more common before this time.


A different model for our legendary folk hero

Much of the hearsay  places Robyn Hode into the popular historical location of the reigns of Henry II, Richard I, John and Henry III. Recent efforts have brought him forward to the 1300's with an identity in 'Barnsdale' South Yorkshire, the epicentre of the narrative and ballad hero, Robyn Hode.
The greatest problem with trying to identify 'Robin Hood' is that there is no document of his time in which he is positively identified. This is not surprising given that the name appears to be purely one originating from the earliest ballad,  'A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode'. A close examination of  the geography of Barnsdale in South Yorkshire  and the genealogy of the families there has revealed a contender for  the location of 'Saylis'  and the inspiration for the ballad hero.  See An alternative to the location of 'Saylis' of the Geste He is a legendary figure, but the hero[es] who inspired the Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode did play a part in history. 

Footnote: I find that Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke, although being associated with a network of criminals in the Barnsdale region, is not the model for the ballad hero. There is a far better historical figure who can command explanations for many of the 'Robin Hood' criteria which explain his popularity throughout England and even Scotland.

             The type of money Robyn Hode may have used


Robyn Hode is a ballad name, but who was Robyn Hode in history?

  1. Hunter, Joseph; Hallamshire and South Yorkshire.1815.
  2. Dictionary of Yorkshire names 1822.
  3. Winsoar Churchill & Alan Klehr.
  4.  Picard, B.L. Hero Tales from the British Isles.
  5. Ohlgren, James; Cambridge University.
  6.  Pratt, C.T. History of Cawthorne. 1882. pp 39-40
  7.  Miles, Bernard, Sir; Robin Hood, Life & Legend.
  8. Changing Face of the River Skell, The Dalesman  July 1974
  9. Treasures of Britain AA Drive Publications 1968
10. Guardian Weekly 31st March 1996
11. Yorkshire Castles Dept. of Environment 1973
12.The Robin Hood Project, University of Rochester.
13. Annals of Yorkshire.
14. Wrenthorpe Web pages, Edward Green
15. Walker, Sheridan, Sue. Wakefield Court Rolls of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society vol. iii,  1331-1333, Leeds, 1983.
16. Toulmin-Smith, L. The Itinerary of John Leland, 1906-1910, p. 13.

17.   Parkes, M.B. The Hereford Map, (2006), p. 110.                                                                                                     


Copyright © Tim Midgley, 1998 links revised November 2023.


Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King  | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of PontefractAlice De Laci and John of GauntBarnsdale Gallery | A suspected compiler of the Geste | Images of Robyn Hode