This Man’s Story Captivated Me as a Child — Who Is He

The stories we are told as a child often embed deeply in our psyche

Who is he?

This man’s story goes back centuries and was originally an oral tale before it was written down. Different versions of his life agree on some details but not all.

He was a rebel who broke some laws and enraged the corrupt authorities of his time. He called out religious people who were hypocrites.

He is a leader who lived as a commoner. The poor rejoiced in the good news he brought them.

His loyal community of followers consisted mainly of men. One in particular was loyal and brave, his right-hand man. He also had a female companion with the initials MM.

The modern name for this man (though there have been many variations over time) is two words, the first has two syllables, the second has one.

Betrayed in the end by someone he trusted, he died as a result.

Ready to guess who you think it is?

My action figure

When I was a child we moved house a number of times and I never lived anywhere more than seven years. One of these times, we had to move for my dad’s job, and lived in a caravan in the forest for a few months.

There was a shop on the caravan site that sold some action figures. I was enchanted with them. Soon after the move I had my birthday (I think it was my sixth maybe) and received the one I wanted above all the others — Robin Hood.

Special Tree

We had moved to Edwinstowe in Sherwood Forest. There is a tree there that is thought to be over 800 years old, the Major Oak. Legend has it that this is the tree in which Robin Hood hid.

The Major Oak is one of the largest trees in Europe and is named after Major Hayman Rooke, who wrote a book about the forest in the eighteenth century. The trunk is 33 feet round and the canopy spreads over 91 feet.

I remember as a child doing an autograph hunt. Men from the village dressed up as Robin and his merry men (and one woman) and hid themselves in the forest. The game was to find them all and get them to sign your book. The winner was the first one back with all the signatures.

I’m not sure that the event takes place anymore, and the caravan park shop with its action figures has now been surpassed by the Sherwood Forest Visitors’ Centre.

Legend

The legend of Robin Hood stands with King Arthur as English folk tales that have been recounted over and over. The details are not always clear, so bear with me on the facts.

He was an outlaw who lived in Sherwood Forest during the twelfth century. His weapon was a bow and arrow and he was highly skilled with them. Opposing him was the Sheriff of Nottingham who imposed high taxes on the commoners. Robin robbed from the rich to give to the poor.

Along the way he gathered a loyal band of supporters — his merry men. The most famous of these are Friar Tuck (who I once played in a pantomime), Will Scarlet and Little John. The fair Maid Marion was also among them.

After being wounded in a fight he fled to a convent. The head nun was his cousin who he asked for help. As was a common medical practice at the time, she opened a vein to let the blood flow out. Though Robin didn’t know it, she was his enemy, and left him to bleed out in a locked room.

Did you work out who it was?

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