Author claims Robin Hood came from Loxley in Sheffield - and thinks he knows who he was

An author on Robin Hood believes the heroic outlaw is from Sheffield’s Loxley Valley and even has a theory about his identity.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 6:03 pm

Geoff Wilson, aged 88, a retired civil engineer who lives in Hemsworth, wrote Robin Hood: the New Evidence, which came out in 2019.

He was speaking in response to a new book, Reclaiming Robin Hood: Folklore & South Yorkshire’s Infamous Outlaw, whose writers include Dr David Clarke, associate professor at Sheffield Hallam University, and Dan Eaton, teacher at Loxley Primary School, where he discovered what is believed to be the birthplace of Robin Hood.

Geoff’s book looks at the geology and topography of areas where Robin Hood is believed to have operated and discounts Sherwood Forest in favour of the area of Barnsdale in South and West Yorkshire, which is used in early accounts.

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Loxley Primary School in Sheffield have joined a campaign to celebrate Robin of Loxley - Robin Hood

He said: “Wentbridge (near Pontefract) is where he operated. He didn’t have a gang that lived with him in the forest – he summoned them by using a horn. That was relayed and so he could cover an area of 80 square miles.

"If there was somebody worth robbing, he could call the gang.”

He added: “The main thing is that there was a poem, The Lytell Gest of Robin Hood, which is accepted as being probably the oldest record. There are 1,800 lines of poetry and it does mention Sherwood Forest – it says that Robin Hood visited Nottingham."

‘I don’t believe Robin Hood used to rob the rich and gave to the poor’

Dan Eaton, of Loxley Primary School, and Dr David Clarke, of Sheffield Hallam University, at the launch of the book, Reclaiming Robin Hood: Folklore & South Yorkshire's Infamous Outlaw

Geoff, who is keen to read the new book, agrees about Robin Hood’s birthplace in Sheffield. He said: “I think he was possibly born there because he was known as Robin of Loxley.”

He added: “I think he probably died in Hampole, a little way from Loxley.”

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Geoff believes that Robin Hood was one person, although many people used the alias: “I don’t think his name was Robin Hood. He was perhaps one of hundreds of Robin Hoods, nearly all petty criminals. I think that was an alias they all used. Anyone can give a false name.”

The book, Reclaiming Robin Hood: Folklore & South Yorkshire's Infamous Outlaw

He added: “I don’t think there’ll be proof. I had my ideas who he was, he was called Richard Rolle. It’s because they were there at the same time and they both went missing for quite a while at the same time.”

Richard Rolle was a 14th-century mystic, theologian and hermit at Hampole Priory, Doncaster.

Geoff, who became interested in Robin Hood because he has lived much of his life near Wentbridge, doesn’t believe in the popular myths that paint Robin Hood as a hero.

“I don’t believe Robin Hood used to rob the rich and gave to the poor. There's no record in the early ballads of him robbing anybody rich like a rich merchant. He robbed the church. He was a devoted Christian.

“According to the Gest, he had built the Chapel of Mary Magdalene. Campsall Church (St Mary Magdalene) had an extension that was built at the same time as he was around.”

Geoff’s book Robin Hood – The New Evidence is published by Austin Macauley (www.austinmacauley.com/book/robin-hood-new-evidence)