About Robin Hood

The name of Robin Hood has been synonymous with Sherwood Forest for more than 600 years.

The words “Robyn hod in scherewod stod” (“Robin Hood in Sherwood stood”) are taken from a poem dating back to around 1400. But there were references to the world’s most famous outlaw even before then.

One of the most important works of English medieval literature, The Vision of Piers the Plowman, by William Langland, written in 1377, mentions the ‘rymes of Robyn hood’, and alludes to how well they were already known.

These rhymes would have been popular subjects for 14th Century minstrels, who wandered the land singing the newest songs of the day.

The legend is based on a small number of ballads which introduce Robin and his band of outlaws, one of the earliest known being ‘A Lyttell Gest of Robyn Hode‘, believed to have been written in the mid-15th Century.

It isn’t so “lyttell” (little) though – it has more than 400 verses!

It mentions some of the characters who would be known as his ‘Merry Men’ – Little John and Will Scarlet (or Scarlok). It also and his sworn enemy – the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Meet Robin Hood

Who was Robin Hood?

From a brave Saxon earl battling the Normans to a common criminal, the question of who Robin Hood might have been, and when he might have lived, has been debated for centuries. Academics have studied his origins, poring over historical records, as well as the original ballads and tales for clues.

There are several candidates from history, but whoever he was, he remains an inspiration to this day – and not just to the local community and the thousands of visitors who travel to Sherwood each year, but to millions more around the world who love the stories but are yet to see this special place for themselves.




Celebrating the legend

How do we celebrate Robin Hood?

We embrace the legend of Robin at Sherwood and bring him, his followers and his stories to life through a range of activities and events.

There’s the Robin Hood Festival, a celebration of the man, and his medieval way of life.

We have guided walks from characters of the day who may have known him, including his arch-enemy, the Sheriff of Nottingham – visit the Events page to find out more.

You can try your hand at archery with our regular Have A Go and Pay and Play sessions, particularly during the school holidays, or learn how to live like an outlaw.

For the young visitor who wants to embody the spirit of Robin, or his true love and fellow outlaw Maid Marian, there is a selection of costumes, as well as the obligatory bows and arrows, available to buy in the Visitor Centre shop

That’s also where you will discover more about Robin, the Merry Band of outlaws and the Not So Merry Band of their enemies.

You can buy a Robin Hood outfit, complete with bow and arrows, from our Visitor Centre shop

Robin in (and out of) the Forest

Throughout the forest you’ll see reminders that Robin is as much a part of this place as the majestic ancient oaks and the wildlife.

But there are certain key spots that really evoke the Robin Hood story. The most obvious is the Major Oak, rumoured to have been Robin’s hiding place, as he tried to escape the Sheriff.

Outside of the forest is the parish church at Edwinstowe – St. Mary’s – where Robin and Maid Marian were said to have married.

There’s also a statue of Robin and Marian outside the library in Edwinstowe, which is another great place to visit to find out more about the legend, and the history of Sherwood Forest.

Maid Marian and Robin Hood of The Sherwood Outlaws in St Mary's Church. Photo by Ashley Bird.

What’s on at Sherwood?

Wind rain and shine, 12 months of the year there is plenty going on here – discover our programme of guided walks, festivals and seasonal highlights.

Our events calendar and booking